The Secret Ingredient (Chorizo): Chorizo-Steamed Mussels and Clams with White Beans Recipe

The Secret Ingredient

Every month we highlight a different ingredient and share weekly recipes that showcase its uses.

The Secret Ingredient (Chorizo): Chorizo-Steamed Mussels and Clams with White Beans Recipe

[Photographs: Kerry Saretsky]

Chorizo is one of those secret ingredients that makes for no-effort cooking because it already has so many secret ingredients within itself. Of course, it is perfect just sliced up and stuck on a skewer with a slice of manchego, or grilled to a charred black on a grill, eaten just as is. That is how I most often eat it. Another phenomenal way to eat chorizo is the way it is served at Brindisa in Borough Market in London: halved, grill-charred, and served on a ciabatta roll with baby arugula, roasted piquillo peppers, and extra virgin olive oil. It leaves me breathless.

The best part about those chorizo sandwiches in Borough Market is the red grease that runs down your hands when you eat it, and it's that red grease that makes chorizo the perfect secret ingredient. It is full of two delicious things: smoked paprika, and garlic. Well, and, of course, pork fat. With those three things in a dish, how could you go wrong?

One great Spanish tradition is to mix ham with seafood. Here, Spanish chorizo, the hard, cured kind (we will get into fresh Mexican chorizo next week) is rendered in robust olive oil, and then garlic and onions are cooked in that until they are burnished, rusty red like the sausage. Then, add some clams and mussels and plump, eager white beans, and parsley and wine. It's the most delicious steam bath those little shellfish could have hoped for, with almost no effort to you, because all you needed was already in the chorizo! The beans soak up so much of the flavor, and the broth is so deeply scented from the smoked paprika in the chorizo that the dish is really made by the addition of the Spanish sausage. I love this. Make two or three pots of it, and have a huge outdoor summer dinner. Serve with some grill-charred bread, and be done with it.

  • Yield:4


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4.125 ounces (about 3 links) of Spanish chorizo, cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch half moons
  • 1 Spanish onion, thinly sliced into half moons
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 15.5-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 5 pounds combined clams and mussels
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley


  1. 1.

    Heat the olive oil in a wide, high-sided pan over medium heat.

  2. 2.

    Add the chorizo, and sauté just until the paprika color begins to bleed into the olive oil, and the sausage starts to become slightly crisp, about 4 minutes.

  3. 3.

    Add the onions and garlic and continue sautéing for another 5 to 7 minutes on medium-low, just until the onions are fragrant and translucent.

  4. 4.

    Add the clams and wine to the pot. Bring to a boil on high heat, then cover and simmer on low to medium-low heat for about 4 minutes.

  5. 5.

    Add the mussels and beans to the pot, and ensure the liquid is still simmering. Cover, and simmer until all the mussels and clams just have opened.

  6. 6.

    Toss with the fresh parsley, and serve immediately with crusty bread.