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Saturday
Feb132010

Chef Talk: Barcelona's Gambas Al Ajillo

Barcelona has long been a Fairfield County favorite for authentic and distinctive Spanish Tapas. All of their locations share that perfect festive vibe, and the cocktails, well they're worthy of their own post.

When the Barcelona Cookbook came out last Summer, I was incredulous that I could recreate the flavors that emerge from their kitchens. Sure, these recipes don't come with music and engaging bartenders, but the food tastes great. These Gambas Al Ajillo are the first of four recipe we will feature from Barcelona Wine Bar.  Enjoy!

Gambas Al Ajillo

20 medium shrimp (21–25 count), peeled and deveined, with tails left on 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

2 teaspoons olive oil 

4 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced (preferably with a mandoline) 

1 cup Christian Brothers Golden Sherry 

2 pinches of hot red pepper flakes 

Leaves from 4 sprigs fresh thyme 

1 tablespoon unsalted butter 

Serves 4 

1. Lightly rinse the shrimp under cool running water. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Lightly season the shrimp with salt and pepper. 

2. In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the garlic and shrimp and sear for about 3 minutes, turning once or twice, or until the garlic is lightly browned. Add the sherry to the pan, being careful in case it ignites (if it does, remove the pan from the heat and the flames will subside quickly). Stir in the pepper flakes and thyme and cook for a few minutes longer, or until the shrimp is cooked through and pink. 

3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a serving dish and leave the sherry in the pan. Still over high heat, reduce the sherry for 7 to 10 minutes, or until it becomes a glaze. 

4. Add the butter to the pan, swirling it over medium heat until melted. Return the shrimp to the pan, toss with the glaze, and serve immediately. 

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Reader Comments (3)

Oh thank you thank you for this post and recipe. I have been cooking this dish for years and keep changing the recipe. Lately I've been using Penzey's Spanish Smoked Paprika (pimenton) and omitting the Sherry. I love Sherry and want to add it back in. What do Andy and Sasa think about pimenton in this dish?

February 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergreenfoodgal

Not sure I would do paprika and sherry in the same dish. There's already a lot going on here, and it's a trick to get the sherry-garlic balance right as it is.

There is a variant with garlic and paprika, but it's a different dish. At Barcelona we are firm believers that "less is more," and in getting a few assertive tastes into each dish rather than a lot of subtle ones.

February 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Pforzheimer

This is very similar to Jose Andres recipe except he uses brandy instead of sherry and no butter, with a sprinkle of parsley at the end. So simple and delicious. I would save the pimenton for the patatas bravas!

February 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkbfood

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