MARCH 11, 2013

MEET THE SOUS CHEF

SEAN SPRADLIN, EXECUTIVE SOUS CHEF, CARRIAGE HOUSE

Everything Sean Spradlin thought he knew about pasta changed when he took his first bite of fideos at Casa Mono, a tapas spot in Manhattan, three years ago.

The Spanish dish, for which noodles are first toasted and then slowly cooked in liquid, was a revelation to Spradlin, who is currently the executive sous chef at Carriage House in Chicago. He quickly adopted the technique, and when we asked him for a recipe, he shared his version of fideos with clams and squid. The dish, thickened with romesco sauce and brightened by chimichurri, is a whole new take on noodles.

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Sean Spradlin's:
See Recipe See the recipe for Sean Spradlin's Fideos with Clams, Romesco and Chimichurri

DAY IN THE LIFE

TIPS & TECHNIQUES

Secret Sauce

To make his romesco sauce, Spradlin first chars the garlic, peppers and tomatoes, which gives the finished sauce a smoky flavor. You can do this under the broiler or on a gas or charcoal grill. The charred vegetables are then blended with toasted bread and fried almonds to make romesco, which can be made a day or two ahead and refrigerated until you're ready to finish the dish.

For Landlubbers

Though this recipe calls for clams and squid, Spradlin says you can vary the protein that you use. For a non-fish version, he suggests using spicy sausage.

MAKE THE
Fideos with Clams, Romesco and Chimichurri

YIELD

2 servings (plus 1 cup leftover romesco sauce)

INGREDIENTS

Romesco Sauce

Day-old bread, 1 slice

Extra-virgin olive oil, ¾ cup

Medium garlic cloves, 9

Plum tomatoes, 6 (cored and halved)

Medium red bell pepper, 1 (seeded and quartered)

Whole or slivered blanched, skinned almonds, ½ cup

Sherry vinegar, ¼ cup

Fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon

Kosher salt, 2 teaspoons

Freshly ground black pepper, ½ teaspoon

Chimichurri

Fresh mint leaves, ½ cup

Fresh parsley leaves, ½ cup

Red wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons

Honey, 1 tablespoon

Medium garlic cloves, 2

Kosher salt, ¾ teaspoon

Freshly ground black pepper, ¼ teaspoon

Extra-virgin olive oil, ½ cup

Fideos

Spaghetti, ½ pound (broken in half)

Canola oil, 1 tablespoon

Shallots, 3 medium (halved and thinly sliced)

Fennel bulb, ¼ head (cored and sliced paper-thin lengthwise)

Anise liqueur, 2 tablespoons

Littleneck clams, 1 pound (scrubbed under cold water)

Squid bodies, ½ pound (thinly sliced crosswise into ¼-inch-thick rings)

Fish stock or chicken broth, 2 cups

Medium lemon, 1 (quartered)

Oil-cured black olives, ¼ cup (pitted and preferably Moroccan olives)

Baguette, sliced

EQUIPMENT

Cutting board

Chef's knife

Measuring cups and spoons

Mixing bowls

Wire rack

Baking sheet

Large cast iron skillet

Large saucepan

Wooden spoon

Food processor

Large pot with a lid

Bread knife

DIRECTIONS

1. Make the romesco sauce: Preheat the oven to 300°. On a wire-rack-lined baking sheet, add the:

  • Bread slice

Toast in the oven until brittle and dried out (but not browned), 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place in the bowl of a food processor. Process until fine, about 5 seconds. Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position (about 3 inches from the broiler element) and turn the broiler on to high.

To the large cast-iron skillet (or a rimmed baking sheet), add:

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Then add the:

  • Garlic cloves, 9
  • Plum tomato halves, cut side up
  • Red bell pepper quarters

Broil the vegetables until charred and blackened, about 10 to 12 minutes (watch the vegetables closely, as broiler intensities vary). Remove the skillet from the oven and set aside.

In a large saucepan set over medium-high heat, add the:

  • Remaining ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Almonds

Fry the almonds until golden-brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and carefully add the:

  • Broiler-charred garlic, tomatoes and bell peppers (and any accumulated juices)
  • Sherry vinegar

Simmer gently until the peppers collapse and soften, using the wooden spoon to stir the mixture occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the vegetable-almond mixture to the food processor with the bread crumbs and purée until semi-smooth, about 10 seconds. Add the:

  • Lemon juice
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

If the purée looks too thick, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water. Taste and re-season with more salt or pepper if needed.

2. Make the chimichurri: To the bowl of a food processor, add the:

  • Mint leaves
  • Parsley leaves
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Honey
  • Garlic cloves
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Process until the ingredients are roughly chopped, about 15 seconds. Slowly, with the food processor running, add the:

  • Olive oil

Process until the sauce is thick and emulsified, about 20 seconds.

3. Make the fideos: In a large pot set over medium heat, add the:

  • Spaghetti

Dry-toast the pasta, shaking the pan often, until golden-brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a large plate.

To the pot, add the:

  • Canola oil
  • Sliced shallots
  • Sliced fennel

Cook, stirring often, until the shallots and fennel are soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the:

  • Anise liqueur

Stir to combine, reduce the heat to medium, then return to the pot the:

  • Toasted spaghetti

Add the:

  • Scrubbed clams
  • Squid rings
  • Fish stock
  • 2 cups of the romesco sauce

Cover the pot and steam until the clams open, 6 to 7 minutes (discard any clams that don't open). Remove the lid and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the spaghetti is al dente, 8 to 10 minutes longer. Season with:

  • A squeeze of lemon juice

Turn the fideos, clams and squid into a large serving bowl. Top with the:

  • Pitted olives

Divide the chimichurri sauce over each serving.

Serve with the:

  • Remaining lemon wedges

And the:

  • Sliced baguette

For dipping in the sauce.

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