Chef José Andrés combines Spanish and American flavors for a Christmas feast featuring a stellar sausage-stuffed rack of pork.
Food & Wine
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Open-Faced Crab Empanadas
José Andrés says: "I love America! Without a doubt, one of my favorite American ingredients is blue crabs, a true delicacy! And a great value, I think." This recipe is his twist on the traditional Basque txangurro (crab simmered with tomato), crossed with a Galician empanada (a savory pie). "Part of my efforts to build a bridge between America and Spain," he explains.
Olives Stuffed with Almonds, Anchovies and Peppers
"For me there is no better tapa than a really good stuffed olive," José Andrés says. He strongly recommends homemade stuffed olives over the store-bought kind, which he proclaims are "usually terrible." Plus, if you stuff them yourself, you've got a million options: "If you love almonds, use good marcona almonds. If you love anchovy, use good Spanish anchovies. If you love peppers, use peppers; I like the wood-roasted piquillo peppers from Navarra. Or if you are like me, you use all three."
To create these wonderful tapas, José Andrés makes a batter with crunchy nubs of chopped cauliflower florets, fries spoonfuls in a skillet and then tops the fritters with yogurt sauce and a dollop of caviar.
Rossejat de fideos, a traditional seafood dish of Spain's Catalonia region, resembles paella but instead of rice, it calls for fideos, fine vermicelli-like pasta. Here, the pasta browns in hot oil until toasty, then cooks slowly in a deliciously rich stock, made with the lobster shells, soaking up all the flavor.
Pork and fruit is a classic pairing around the world, but this dish gets a particularly Catalan flavor from the combination of dried fruit and butifarra (a Catalan cured pork sausage) in the stuffing. The stuffing cooks inside the roast, which gives it a deep, marvelously porky flavor.
For José Andrés, Christmas always means clementines, the easy-to-peel citrus with a sweet, apricot-like taste. He pairs them with tart grapefruit in a juicy, refreshing winter salad flavored with a bit of saffron—a common Spanish ingredient.
The leek, like its relatives onion and garlic, is generally used to flavor other foods. José Andrés feels this is a mistake. "Listen to me: Leek is a vegetable," he says. "It can be the center of a dish." Here, he cooks leeks until tender, then pairs them with trumpet mushrooms for a sensational side dish.
Instead of using butter, chef José Andrés prefers to add richness with olive oil and Manchego cheese. His tip: "Add the olive oil slowly to the potatoes because if you dump it in all at once, you'll get streaks of oil."
One of José Andrés's favorite American sweets is pecan pie. "We love nuts in Spain too, but I confess I find pecan pie a little heavy. This version is my attempt to lighten it up a little." This twist was inspired by tocino de cielo, a rich, eggy cousin of flan.