Sunday, February 2, 2014

Clams are so versatile

Saturday was a chapter of accidents - I missed a hair appointment, so had to go later. That messed up dinner plans. The French beat the English at Rugby, so I have to have a jeering barrage of French co-workers on Monday. So dinner went from being a nice leisurely affair to an, "How can I do something quick and delicious?" - and something warm because of the weather, fish/seafood based because Madame wanted it...
So the old standby of clams came to the rescue. A trip to my fantastic local fish monger (TJ's on Oak Lawn in Dallas), some minor arm twisting from Jon Alexis there (razor clams and littlenecks), some discussion about fennel and I was off to the races. Jon told me that the razor clams cook quicker than the littlenecks, and to put them in a bit after the littlenecks. I figured that 90 seconds would do the trick - and so it did. Fresh pasta (bought,  this time),  green beans, fennel, shallots tomatoes, white wine..... Oh my. And yes it did get the "We can serve this to people" accolade from Madame.

Ingredients - for the clams

1T vegetable oil
2 shallots, minced fine
1 fennel bulb halved and sliced very thinly (mandoline helps here)   
1 - 1 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used a South African Chenin Blanc called Secateur, procured from Veritas)
1 star anise
1/2 dried cayenne pepper, chopped into flakes (more or less to taste)
6 red cherry tomatoes - halved
6 yellow cherry tomatoes - halved
12 littleneck clams
4 razor clams
salt/pepper to taste


Heat the oil until just shimmering in a large saute pan(choose a pan that has straight sides and a well fitting lid if possible.) Add the shallots and fennel, cook gently until translucent. Add the white wine, dried cayenne, and star anise and simmer uncovered until some of the alcohol has boiled off. There will always be some left. Add the halved tomatoes, cover and simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes (until the fennel is tender). Remove the star anise.
Add the littleneck clams and cover. Cook for 90 seconds, then add the razor clams. Cook until all clams are open.
Serve with fresh linguine - cooked al dente, and green beans. Garnish with fennel fronds.

Ingredients - green beans

24 green beans cut into 2" pieces.
1T unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
salt/pepper to taste


Heat the butter over medium heat until it stops foaming. Add the beans, toss to coat. Continue to cook until the butter just starts to turn brown. Stop the butter from burning by adding the water and immediately cover the pot and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Uncover and allow the steam to dissipate. Serve immediately.

No comments: