- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My thirtysomething son is a self-professed football fanatic who at any given moment can reel off the latest rankings of teams all over the country. Throughout the long football season, you’ll find him in front of the television rooting for his favorite squads. Imagine, then, his excitement as the biggest game of the year, the Super Bowl, approaches.

He strikes a deal with his patient wife to reserve the TV for this event and typically invites several buddies over to watch with him. A talented cook, he never fails to provide tempting morsels to wash down with beer during the event.

This year, as in many past, I’ve sent him a recipe for some special appetizers to serve during halftime. I know that cumin-scented shrimp and chorizo skewers are just the type of nibbles he and his friends would enjoy. These quick bites are simple to assemble, yet packed with robust flavor.

Shelled and deveined shrimp are speared along with slices of chorizo, and cherry tomatoes, then brushed with cumin oil (a combo of olive oil and ground cumin). The skewers can be prepared several hours ahead and need only to be broiled for several minutes at serving time. A generous squeeze of lime juice and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro are added as final garnishes.

The rosy crustaceans, the sienna-tinted chorizo, and the crimson tomatoes combine to make a striking trio of colors, and the hearty taste of each melds together perfectly. Offer a platter of cheeses and a bowl of nuts along with this shrimp and sausage melange, and you’ll have plenty of fare to keep football fans (and long-suffering spouses and partners, too) from going hungry during the championship game Sunday.

Cumin-scented shrimp and chorizo skewers

Makes 12 skewers or enough to serve 4, but the recipe can be doubled easily.

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/4 cup olive oil

12 large uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 cherry tomatoes

A 3- to 4-ounce chorizo sausage cut into 12 slices on a slight diagonal (see note)

1 lime, halved

4 teaspoons chopped cilantro

12 metal or wooden skewers (if using wooden skewers, soak them in water at least 30 minutes or longer.)

Arrange a rack 5 inches from the broiler and preheat oven on broil. In a small bowl, whisk together the cumin and olive oil until well-blended. Set aside.

Season shrimp lightly with salt and pepper. Skewer a tomato, then a chorizo slice, then a shrimp on each skewer. Line a baking sheet with foil and place skewers on it. Brush the shrimp, chorizo and tomatoes generously on all sides with the cumin oil. (Skewers can be prepared 2 hours ahead; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before broiling.)

Broil for 1 to 2 minutes per side or until shrimp are pink and tomatoes are slightly blistered but not bursting. Watch carefully so that you do not overcook.

Remove from oven and arrange skewers on a serving platter. Squeeze the juice of the lime halves over the skewers, then sprinkle them with cilantro.

Note: Chorizo, a highly seasoned sausage, comes in 2 varieties, Spanish or Mexican. Use the Spanish variety, which is smoked and cooked, for this recipe, not the Mexican one, which is uncooked and not smoked. Spanish chorizo is available in many supermarkets.

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