By Paul Suplee, MBA, CEC, PC-3
This weekend at the shop, I am hosting the First Annual boxcar40 Clamdemic.
I am looking forward to cooking clams every which way, as I truly adore clams.
As a young child in a highchair, I would fend off my older siblings who would terrorize me by pretending to steal away these tender and tasty morsels.
There is something simply wonderful about these bivalves so common in our area. For years, when we would park on the sandbar in front of Sneaky Pete’s, we would have bucket and rake available, ready to harvest some clams that were even larger than my hand.
Even those went to good use, steamed and then chopped up for chowder, all the juices reserved for said soup.
Yes, I can eat a metric ton of clams. Now, I know that they are not the healthiest of foods, but that is just fine by me. They are delicious.
Never one to eat them raw, it wasn’t until I was working at Blue Coast in Bethany that I ate a raw clam with mignonette. I have eaten steamed clams my entire life, but raw? No, thank you.
Well, rest assured that when I had my first taste of raw clams with mignonette, it was life-changing. The fresh and salty flavors of the clams juxtaposed by the sharp bite of the vinegar. Yes, it was a match made in heaven.
A bit earlier, when I was running the kitchen at Reel Inn, two regulars came in and taught me two major tricks for enjoying steamed clams.
While I would let my clams sit in clean salted water over night to purge them, these guys would fill burlap sacks with the little bastards and then hang them from the dock for a few days.
The clams were able to spit out every last grain of sand, and to date I have yet to eat cleaner clams.
The other clam hack is probably my favorite, if not the easiest one to achieve. Simply serve the clams with brown butter.
My eyes just rolled back in my head as I typed that. I might need a cigarette after this one!
The brown butter (yet something else that I had made countless times) is the perfect accoutrement for steamed clams.
Today’s recipe does not have brown butter, as the accompanying sauce is quite delectable, but just know that this option exists for your future clam-destroying evenings.
As I sit here, slowly motivating myself for what should be a wonderful weekend, I relish and, yes, even chortle as I think of my name for the weekend; “The Clamdemic.”
It is a name that has inspired countless people. Honestly, I have no idea if this is true or not, but I like to consider myself a trend-setter, so I will just park that one right about here.
Luckily, you will be able to find all these ingredients locally, especially the fresh herbs that should be growing in your victory garden. I know you have one.
If you want to get extra-Gucci, make your own butter.
A quart of heavy cream will yield about a pound of fresh butter, and it is a cool project to work on, especially if you are quarantined with children. And on that note, if you are quarantined with children – namely small children – you have my deepest condolences.
But if you do need to get out of the house, please take the kids to a local joint. It does not have to be mine. Just support local, and enjoy that sunshine! Get out and spread your wings, safely.
Clams to Die For
Serves 4 (or me alone)
30 littleneck clams (or 20 top necks for me)
1 stick butter, unsalted
2 c. Dry white wine
1 lemon, quartered
1/4 c. Fresh basil and Italian parsley, minced
1 c. Dry chorizo, medium dice
1/4 c. Roasted garlic cloves, whole (recipe follows).
- Melt the butter in a fry pan large enough to hold the clams. Make sure that it’s also large enough to toss the clams when they start opening up. They take a lot more real estate when that starts happening.
- Add the clams to the butter and toss, heating the pan back up.
- Add the white wine and lemon quarters and then toss a lid on the bad boy.
- Allow to steam for about 3-6 minute, according to your stove, and then quickly add and toss the herbs, chorizo and garlic cloves.
- When all are heated through properly, remove and plate the clams, making sure to divide the juices and butter among the bowls.
- Serve with bread and go to town!
makes about 1 cup
1 c. Fresh garlic cloves, peeled
olive oil, to cover cloves by an inch.
- Combine the garlic and oil, and put over a low heat.
- Take your time and be patient. If you burn or fry the garlic, just throw it away. It will be bitter and that translates into the entire dish. There is no removing it.
- Low and slow, baby. Low and slow. Once the garlic is lightly goldened, remove immediately and allow to sit for 15 minutes.
- Refrigerated, this lasts an exceptionally long time.
And don’t forget that you can use the oil in your dishes as well. Waste not, want not.
— Paul G. Suplee is an Associate Professor of
Culinary Arts at Wor-Wic Community College.
Find his ePortfolio at www.heartofakitchen.com.