Tapa of the Week #5 – Champiñones al Ajillo

Garlic Mushrooms, or maybe a more literal translation would be “garlicy mushrooms,” are a standard tapa found quite easily at the traditional tapas bars in Madrid and around Spain. In case you are planning on ordering “champiñones al ajillo” while visiting Spain, the pronunciation Spanish would be something like “Cham-peen-YONE-es al a-HE-yo.” Or a more informal way is just “Champis” (CHAMP-ees)

Now for the Spanish lesson of the day: Imagine you are at a tapas bar in Madrid, you and a couple friends are standing at the crowded bar and finally get the attention of the barman. You want to get larger size tapas to share among you. Here’s what you say when the barman looks at you and you feel the pressure of suddenly having to speak Spanish.

Barman: Dime jovenes! (Tell me, young people)

You: Hola! Ponnos dos claras, una caña, una de champis, unas bravas y un pincho de tortilla.

In the local slang that would be: “Hi, Give us (literally “put us”) two claras (shandys), a small beer, a plate of garlicy mushrooms, a plate of patatas bravas and a slice of potato omlette.”

Now imagine you are at your house and you want to make these mushrooms for yourself and friends. The recipe is really quite simple and one that goes well with many other dishes. I actually don’t follow a specific recipe anymore and the amounts are not SO important, so feel free to vary them depending on your taste for garlic, ham and how many people you will be serving.


1 pound (500 grams) mushrooms

5 or 6 cloves of garlic cut in slices

1/3 cup (100 ml) olive oil

½ or more cup white wine

½ cup of pieces of jamon Serrano or cubes of deli ham (optional)

a generous pinch of salt

pepper to taste

1 tbsp. chopped parsley

Optional: 1 small dried red pepper or a small pinch of pepper flakes for a little spiciness

First clean and slice your mushrooms and peel and slice the garlic. For cooking this dish you can use a clay casserole dish or a regular frying pan. First heat a generous amount of olive oil, just enough so that the garlic doesn’t burn but not so much that its completely swimming. After a couple minutes add the pepper (crushed) if you are using it and cook a bit longer. Now you can add the mushrooms and the white wine. Feel free to also add a bit more oil if you need to. The mushrooms will take about 10 minutes to cook and you can add the ham bits at any time. When they are cooked, and most of the juice has cooked off, add salt and pepper to flavor, the chopped parsley and enjoy!

Here is a picture of the mushrooms I made last week. I usually like to chop the parsley better and maybe the ham a little smaller but I was hungry and in a bit of a hurry. Next time I think I will add more garlic!




Filed under Food

6 responses to “Tapa of the Week #5 – Champiñones al Ajillo

  1. I can’t wait to try this. When my wife and I were in Madrid, we found this tiny, but constantly busy place called “El Abuelo” that made an amazing Gambas al Ajillo in little terracotta bowls (plus a fun little a sweet house red wine 🙂 ). The only problem is that my wife is mildly allergic to shrimp! (She was able to get away with eating the garlic sauce though.) Mushrooms sound like a win-win alternative.

    Every time we visit a Tapas bar/resturaunt, I always order Gambas it if it’s on the menu, hoping it will be as good. I never is.

  2. Yea, el Abuelo is great, On calle Victoria near Sol its an old Madrid standard and keeps bringing people back again. I also love their “langostinos a la plancha” – grilled prawns.
    I hope your wife enjoys the mushrooms!

  3. Great article Janelle. Being that I am a mushroom addict, I would agree that this dish is one of my absolute favorites and one that I haven’t had in quite awhile, reminding me that I better get on that! Maybe if I pass by your neck of the woods near the end of the month, I’ll make sure that we go out for a drink get some of these bad boys 😉

  4. Thanks Gabriella! For the sake of research maybe we should check out Meson del Champiñon next to the Meson de la Guitarra, its been awhile since I was there, I want to see if they can hold up to their name.

  5. Pingback: This week’s links… - Notes from Spain: Travel, Living in Spain, Podcasts, Forum and Photos

  6. Gina

    Meson del Champiñones is fantastic! Best grilled mushrooms and sangria in Madrid, plus it has such a rich history. The bartenders have worked there anywhere from 14 to as many as 38 years! We’ve gone several times in a single trip.

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