José Pizarro

Episode: Three

Chef José grew up in Extremadura, Spain, where his love for wine originated. As a young child he remembers enjoying a bowl of clams, whilst his Uncle allowed him to sip a little of his wine. Since then, José has learned the importance of pairing food and wine, describing it as an emotional connection. It’s this childhood memory that inspired his wine choice for his debut on The Wine Show.

José owns three restaurants: José, Pizarro and recently opened, José Pizarro. All three restaurants specialise in authentic Spanish cuisine but with a creative twist. José’s family have farmed for generations, and this is reflected in his menu, which displays a passion for fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients. José’s favourites include the equally delicious clams with sherry, a plate of jamón ibérico, and salt cod with potato and vizcaina sauce.

José Pizarro’s Wine Choice

This sherry is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, enclosed in an enigma. Part tangy, fresh Fino, part rich and nutty Oloroso. 20 years of gradual ageing make this the most complex wine from Williams & Humbert. The perfect way into dinner with almonds, great tapas and intelligent conversation.

José’s Recipe: Clams with Sherry

Serves: Four

Please remember that clams, like mussels, must be totally fresh when you buy them; don’t use frozen ones, and throw away any whose shells are open. By law, clams are sold in clean (tap) water, but I like to put them into salted water for an hour before cooking them, just to make doubly sure that there is no sand inside the shells. Next, put them into lots of tap water for 20 minutes – to rid the clams of saltiness. This is a bit of a bother, but definitely worth it.

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 banana shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 800g clams
  • 200ml Palo Cortado sherry (drink the rest of the bottle with the finished dish)
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 150g Serrano ham, diced
  • handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1. Pour the oil into a lidded saucepan that’s large enough for the clams to fit easily in a single layer on the bottom as well as house the clams once they’re open.
  • 2. Sauté the shallot and garlic in the olive oil over a low heat, making sure they don’t brown. Next, add the clams, sherry and bring to the boil, to let some of the alcohol evaporate.
  • 3. Add the thyme and pepper and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Leave the clams for 2 minutes. Check, and continue cooking if necessary – they will cook in less than 4 minutes. As soon as most of them are open, take the pan off the heat. Discard any clams that have remained shut.
  • 4. Add the ham and the parsley and serve immediately.

José Pizarro’s Basque book

In Basque, José Pizarro will take readers on a journey around this magical place, taking inspiration from traditional dishes and local ingredients, and adding his own unique twist.

José’s book Basque is published by Hardie Grant Books in March 2016.