Time for the weekly food round-up. This was one of our weekend meals, P cooked it (I picked it out) 🙂 It’s a good system.
(adapted from Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan’s Fresh Clam Chowder)
4 lb pounds clams*
1 lb small potatoes cut in half
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 pound pancetta, cubed or bacon, sliced
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 stalk celery, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds
1 and ½ tablespoon Thai roasted chili paste
1 tablespoon Tabasco
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 cups of beer (we used a Belgian Amber-brewed by P)
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper
*We used steamers which are a bit different than more traditional clams like littelnecks or cherry-use what you can find. The smaller, more traditional clams might be better. Here is information on cooking/handling steamers and littlenecks.
In a large stock pot, bring about 5 cups of water to a boil and cook the potatoes until al dente, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon, but do not drain off the water.
While the potatoes are boiling, in a second large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil and thyme over low heat. Add the pancetta to the oil and thyme and cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes, making sure not to burn the pancetta. Add the red onion, celery, garlic and salt. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the carrots, chili paste, and Tabasco. Cook until the carrots soften slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and 3 cups of potato water and stir to combine. Keep this chowder base warm over low heat, or refrigerate for up to 1 day. When ready to finish the soup, warm the chowder base over low heat.
When ready to serve, cook the clams. Working in batches, place enough clams to fill but not crowd the bottom of a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium heat. Pour in 1 cup of beer on top and cover the pan. Simmer for about 4 minutes, or until the majority of clams open. Pick out any clams that have not opened. Transfer cooked clams to plate or cutting board, remove clam meat (cutting off siphons) and add to pot with the chowder base. Continue cooking in batches until clams are all cooked, add more beer if needed or start fresh if beer becomes too gritty.
Add the milk and cream to the pot and bring the chowder to a simmer. Ladle individual servings into soup bowls. Serve with cracked black pepper.
THE REST OF THE WEEK:
We had a very vegetarian week this past week; a combination of a farmers market trip (where I tried to focus on veggies) plus I’ve been under the weather still so I felt like I needed veggies:
- Balsamic Beets with Lentils: This dish was a real gamble. P is a proclaimed beet hater who has softened his stance on the issue after several restaurant meals containing roasted beets but this was the first time we had them at home. He had three servings..so that is a WIN. Not something I will make again very soon, I found it a bit boring but glad we tried it.
- Split Pea Soup: The peas took longer than expected but turned out good. Next time there will be bacon added.
- Pasta with Brussel Sprouts, Mushrooms, and Parmesan: We used shiitake mushrooms (you may notice this is a trend). Use a good grate-your own kind of Parmesan cheese-it makes all the difference in simple pasta dishes that don’t have a lot of other components.
- Veggie Lasagna Rolls: This turned out great and seems much easier to assemble than traditional lasagna. We (P) made our own tomato sauce using San Marzano crushed tomatoes (box if you can find it instead of can), garlic, onion and fresh herbs (basil and oregano-you could also use dry). We used fresh mozzarella on top in rounds which gave it a bit lighter feel and not so cheesy but of course the grated mozzarella would be great too.