“Portuguese-Inspired” Shrimp and Sausage



  olive oil
  tomatoes (canned, juice discarded)
  black pepper


  1. If you’re using a smoked or cooked sausage such as kielbasa or chorizo, just cut it up and set it aside. Otherwise, heat a very small amount of olive oil and brown the sausage until it’s almost firm. Remove from the pan and when it has cooled, cut it up. It should still be a bit raw inside; that’s OK.

  2. Heat some more oil and saute the onions over a low-to-medium flame until they’re soft and golden but not brown. Add the garlic a little before the onions are done. If you have chosen a dried herb for your spice, add it right before the onions are finished, turn the heat up to high, and stir frequently.

  3. Deglaze the pan with a very small bit of liquid. I like beer, especially a pilsner or a lager; if you use wine, try something a bit on the sweet side or it will be too acidic in the end. Don’t even consider using water!

  4. Cut up the tomatoes a bit and put them in the pan; cook for a few minutes over medium heat until the tomatoes have softened. Also, if you haven’t done so already, put in your spice (yes, “spice,” singular – this is a simple dish for which one spice is quite sufficient). Which spice? Maybe saffron (if you’re feeling rich), maybe coriander, maybe cumin (go easy with this one), maybe paprika (go easy with this one, too). For a more Italian flavor, use a green herb such as oregano, marjoram, basil, thyme, etc. (and Italian-style sausage, of course).

  5. Put the cut-up sausage back in the pot and add the liquid. You’re aiming for something that’s thinner than a stew but not as thin as a soup; you want the ingredients to just be covered in liquid when you serve it, but you also want something to sop up with your bread. You aren’t going to cook this for a long time so not much liquid is going to evaporate; on the other hand, make sure you cook it long enough to at least get rid of the obvious taste/tang of the alcohol.

  6. Cook, uncovered, at something more than a moderate simmer but well below a boil, until you can’t taste the alcohol anymore and the flavors have melded.

  7. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, add the shrimp, cook until the shrimp are almost opaque, then turn off the heat immediately; there will be more than enough residual heat to finish cooking the shrimp.


This dish is based very loosely on what I believe is a traditional Portuguese dish that’s usually made with clams and chorizo. However, depending on what ingredients I use (and in particular what spice I choose), the resemblence can range from somewhat close to practically non-existant.

I really shouldn’t give you quantities for the ingredients or how to prepare them; there’s nothing that needs to be measured, and anyone with even a modicum of cooking skill ought to be able to make something tasty using their own judgement. I will, however, give you an example of the quantities I typically use: 2 medium/large onions (half- or quarter-round slices), at least 8 fat cloves of garlic (chopped), 1 can of tomatoes (or 2), 1/2 pound of kielbasa, 1 pound of shrimp, and most of a bottle of beer.

Serve this with a good crusty bread (warm, if possible) and a nice cold beer.

I like to use 31/40 shrimp: 41/50 is also nice but takes too long to peel if I’m making this after having worked all day; anything larger dwarfs the sausage, and if you’re only going to cut them up, why pay the extra money?

There’s one exception to my admonishment about using only a single spice: Some dried red pepper flakes, in addition to whatever spice you’ve chosen, will add a nice little kick (if you like that sort of thing; I do, but my wife doesn’t, so I usually omit this). However, I don’t recommend using the red pepper with saffron; itˑs just too easy to overpower saffron’s somewhat-delicate flavor and at $8 per gram (or more!), that would be a foolish (and unfortunate) thing to do.


Difficulty: Very easy.

Time: About 1 hour.

Precision: 1.


My own foolin’ around

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