Digging for Dinner

Enjoyed a beautiful meal with friends at their beach house, though little did we know we’d be digging for dinner…

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Dennis and Marie know their stretch of sand and sea pretty well, “Rakes or feet?” they asked. We were getting a lesson in clamming that day. Our dinner depended on it.

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Back at Sea Flat, Miss Amy created a few tasty toppings to accompany our steaming bivalves; dinner smelled delicious.clams2

Oh, the Great South Bay, where it all began. We’ll be back soon, rakes in hand. We’re clammers now!

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MEXICAN TOMATO COCKTAIL SALSA

24 freshly dug littleneck clams, scrubbed and rinsed well
1 cup firm red ripe tomato, skin on, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup finely chopped scallions
½ red pepper, finely chopped
½ jalapeño, minced
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Let stand for 15 minutes. Spoon over raw or steamed clams on the half and serve.
Can be made 24 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate. Take out of fridge and let sit for ½ hour before serving.

CLAMS ON THE HALF WITH SAUTÉED VEGETABLES
24 freshly dug littleneck clams, scrubbed and rinsed well
1½ bottles crisp summer ale or 1 to 2 cups good-quality dry white wine.
2-3 pieces bacon, roughly chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (the good stuff if you’ve got it!)
¼ cup shallot, finely chopped
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup or so (7 to 8) baby bella mushrooms, finely chopped
Best quality Champagne vinegar, if desired

I like to have all my ingredients for the sauté ready to go before I start the clams. Once I get the clams on the stove, then I move quickly to get the sauté done right about the same time the last of the clams finish steaming.

Scrub and rinse the clams and place in a large stockpot. Add water until clams are 1/3 covered. Add either the beer or the white wine. Throw in a bay leaf, a couple of peppercorns and a sprig of fresh thyme and/or oregano. Liquid should cover the clams to about ¾ of the way up the sides of the stockpot. Cover and place over medium-high heat. Steam clams just until they open. Using tongs, remove clams to a serving platter.

(Alternately, clams can be opened and set on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Remove clams. Set oven to broil. Spoon sautéed vegetables over each clam and place under the broiler for 10 to 20 seconds, no more. Using tongs, remove clams to a serving platter and serve immediately.)

Set a sauté pan over medium heat. Add a tablespoon olive oil, heat through. Add bacon and cook until just crisp. Do not overcook! Remove bacon and drain. Pour off a bit off the bacon fat/oil, leaving about 2 tablespoons. (Add additional tablespoon olive oil if there isn’t enough fat in the pan.) Add shallots, scallions, celery and garlic and sauté for 1 to 3 minutes, until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and cook, tossing frequently to coat, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cooked bacon and sauté to heat through. Add fresh ground pepper to taste. Sprinkle mixture with just a smidgen of Champagne vinegar and toss to incorporate, if desired. Spoon sautéed vegetables over clams and serve.

Recipes by Miss Amy of Miss Amy’s Preserves, Blue Point
Special thanks to Dennis, Marie and Danny at Sea Flat

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