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Author Notes: I love the indulgent combination of shrimp and chorizo. The rich spiciness of the chorizo is a natural complement to the sweet shrimp. Background notes of smoked paprika, fresh thyme, and minced shallot round out the dish. If you want to get creative, add a handful of hearty greens to the stew before serving, or crack a couple of eggs into the stew and poach them along with the shrimp.
This recipe features a reinforced stock made with shrimp heads and fresh thyme. The reinforced stock is the difference between a good meal and a meal that truly leave a lasting impression. Cooking is always about sequences of tiny details. Individually, these details might not seem to make much of a difference, but when added together, these details are the what great cooking is all about. —Josh Cohen
- 1 pound head-on shrimp
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/2 pound fresh chorizo sausage
- olive oil
- 2 minced shallots
- 1/3 cup diced tomatoes (use canned in the winter and fresh in the summer)
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Two slices of your favorite rustic bread
- 1 small handful fresh thyme leaves for garnish
- Begin by removing the heads and shells from the shrimp. Save the heads separately from the shells. Using a paring knife, make a shallow slit running along the back of each shrimp. Remove and discard the vein that runs the length of each shrimp. Store the shrimp in the refrigerator.
- Set a large pot over high heat. Do not add anything to the pot, leave it completely dry and empty. When the pot is hot, add the shrimp heads, and roast them in the dry pot, flipping them with tongs occasionally so that all sides are lightly charred. When all sides of the shrimp heads look slightly charred, reduce the heat to low and add the white wine. When the wine is almost fully evaporated, add the stock, thyme, and shrimp shells. Adjust the heat to high and bring the stock to a boil, then reduce the heat so that the stock is gently simmering. Cook until the stock reduces by half. Strain the stock with a fine mesh strainer. Save the strained stock and discard the rest. This stock can be made 1 day ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.
- Remove the chorizo meat from its casing. Flatten the meat into the shape of a large, thin pancake. Set a large pot over high heat, and add enough olive oil to just cover the bottom of the pot. When the oil is about to start smoking, add the chorizo (shaped like a thin pancake). Let the chorizo cook, undisturbed, until the bottom of the chorizo pancake is nicely caramelized. Using a wooden spoon, aggressively chop the chorizo into bite-size, crumbly pieces (this “pancake” technique helps develop more caramelization and flavor with the chorizo). Stir the chorizo until it is fully cooked, breaking up any large pieces with the spoon. Reduce the heat to low and add the shallots. Cook the shallots, stirring occasionally, until they appear soft and somewhat translucent. Do not let the shallots burn.
- When the shallots appear soft and somewhat translucent, add the diced tomato and paprika. Season the pot with a pinch of salt. Add the reduced and strained stock. Increase the heat to bring the stock to a boil, and then reduce the heat so that the stock is just barely simmering. Add the shelled and deveined shrimp.
- While the shrimp are cooking, toast your slices of bread under the broiler (or in a toaster oven). When the toast is ready, set it aside. When the shrimp are fully cooked, taste the broth in the pot. Adjust with salt as necessary. Ladle the stew into bowls, garnish with a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves, and serve along with the toasted bread. Enjoy.