Most of the things I end up cooking follow this Order of Operations:
- What have I got? What is going to go bad if I don't use it? Can I make something without going to the store?
- What do I feel like eating? What haven't I made in a while? Do I have time or energy to cook something elaborate?
- Consult the cookbook rack for inspiration if I don't already have something in mind, or consult the books for their take on what I've already got in mind.
- Return to beginning, reassess. Cooking is an iterative process.
So this one started with me having some pancetta. And some tomatoes that were on their way out (the last of the tomatoes, picked as the rain and cold came in.) Feeling like shellfish tonight. Ok, recipes in Kathy Casey's Northwest Table and Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen for oven roasted clams, looks good. Casey uses beer and tomatoes, I've got my Fresh Hop Pale Ale on tap and the tomatoes. Douglas uses chanterelles and pancetta, I've got some partly cooked and frozen chanties from earlier Summer foraging, and the tail end of my pancetta. We can make this work.
No clams. No problem. Fresh Fish Co. is a 5 minute walk away. Run out, 2lbs Penn Cove Clams. All alive and healthy. They will not sell you a bad fish. Or um, mollusk.
Get to work.
- 4 slices pancetta, maybe 2 oz, chopped
- olive oil
- 1/3-1/2 lb. Chanterelles, torn or sliced. I froze mine in quart tupperwares, they range between these weights so I just popped one out of the freezer.
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced.
- 2lbs clams. Washed, scrubbed, still alive, etc.
- Red pepper flakes
- Tomatoes. About a cup. I used a mix of cherry and heirloom, sliced in half or diced, big tomatoes seeded.
- Rosemary. A teaspoon chopped and one sprig. Hooray for the rosemary bush.
- 1/2 a lemon. Quartered. Or, um, eigthed I guess.
- 1/4 cup Pale Ale. I used my own Fresh Hop Pale.
- 2 T butter, cut into small chunks.
Pop it in the oven for 15 minutes or so until the clams are all open. Remove, stir a bit, remove any unopened clams. Serve with crusty bread for the awesome sauce.
All told this recipe is super easy, serves four as a light dinner, is five star delicious, and took maybe a half hour total. And because I grew, made or foraged most of the ingredients it cost maybe $12, most of which was the clams. And you can bet I'll make this next time I go clamming...
Leftovers. We had half leftover, being just the two of us. The next night I took the clams out of their shells, and discarded the lemons, shells and rosemary sprig. Cooked up some penne, heated the clam pan, added the pasta, added two beaten eggs and some parmesan. Stirred until thickened and delicious. 15 minutes. Lemony, creamy but also clammy and mushroomy. Very good for a day-old shellfish dish.