My experience with Spanish cuisine is limited to making an occasional Paella and even there, without a true Paella pan, I am not sure how authentic my version is. But I’ve wanted to delve a little deeper ever since I read “Ferran ” (Gotham Books 2011) Colman Andrew’s biography of Ferran Adrià i Acosta who is, arguably, the best chef in the world. And who wouldn’t be intrigued by a subhead that read “The Inside Story of El Bulli and the Man who Re-invented Food”. From his out-of-the-way El Bulli restaurant in Roses on the Costa Brava, the chef has drawn gastronomes from every corner of the world. Now shuttered while he decides what his next step will be, the chef’s most famous contributions to cuisine will never be the province of the home cook. Adria is most associated with “molecular gastronomy”, which is that particular style of cooking obsessed with its science and how food is chemically changed during
the cooking process. Despite his reputation for being one of its foremost practitioners, the Chef himself doesn’t consider his cooking to fit in that category. Instead, he is quoted as saying that his goal is “to provide unexpected contrasts of flavour, temperature and texture. Nothing is what it seems. The idea is to provoke, surprise and delight the diner.” I won’t, for one minute, claim that this incredibly simple Garlic Shrimp with White Beans comes anywhere near the complexity of a Ferran dish. But I think you will agree that this thirty minute entrée will “provoke, surprise and delight” you.
|Found at HomeGoods|
|Hooray for TJ’s|
To make it, I relied once again on Shrimp from Costco. While the original recipe, developed in the Bon Appetit test kitchen, suggested medium shrimp, Andrew and I both agreed that the larger 11-15 count shrimp make this much more substantial. You get real shrimp flavor in every bite. I can’t tell you how many places I’ve looked for Smoked Paprika. For the longest time, I have had to go to Pensky’s to find a tiny jar of the stuff for oodles of money. So you can imagine how pleased I was to see that Trader Joe’s is now carrying full-sized jars of Smoked Paprika for just $1.99. While I wouldn’t discourage you from making this with ordinary and much-easier-to-find Sweet Paprika, I would go out of my way to use the Smoked variety. You may associate Paprika with Hungarian cooking. The truth is Paprika has only been used in Hungary in the last hundred years. But in Spain, its use goes back to the 1500s when it was brought back by the Conquistadors from the Americas. Paprika is made from bell peppers or a mix of bell peppers and chili peppers. In Spain, Paprika is called “Pimenton” and you may find it by that name in specialty stores. I found in the Gourmet Section of HomeGoods! Spanish Paprika is dried by using smoke, most often the smoke from oak wood, which gives it a distinctive smoky flavor that’s lacking in the Hungarian version. So leave that for Paprikash or Goulash and take a trip to Spain for dinner tonight. And unless you are a very light eater, this recipe, which Bon Appetit said was for 4, was dinner for two at our house. Here’s the recipe:
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Preheat broiler. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy, ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add 1 garlic clove, chiles, and bay leaf and cook, stirring constantly, just until fragrant, 1-2 minutes (do not allow garlic to burn). Add tomato; season with salt and pepper. Cook, smashing tomato with the back of a wooden spoon, until it is completely broken down, about 5 minutes.
Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until paste is deep red and caramelized, 3-4 minutes. Stir in beans and broth. Bring to a brisk simmer and cook until juices are slightly reduced and thickened, 3-4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Combine remaining 2 garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons oil, shrimp, and paprika in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper and toss to evenly coat shrimp. Scatter shrimp over beans in an even layer.
Broil until shrimp are golden and cooked through, about 3 minutes. While the shrimp are under the broiler, use a clove of garlic, halved, to rub over both sides of the slices of Bread. Toast til medium brown. Drizzle olive oil over the bread.