Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Beaufort Clams

I've written before about my love for our new home-away-from-home. The friends we've made in this energetic community top my 'reasons why' list. Quickly following is the beauty of the area. No matter what time of year, it's a gorgeous place to be. Fighting for the number two spot is the food. There are so many good restaurants within walking distance of our house, not to mention frequent invitations to our neighbor's home just at the end of the street. Fred and Sue have given us such a good tutorial on the local fare. The other night we had clam chowder with cornmeal dumplings and fried cornbread (so I could try both). As I understand it, the cornmeal dumplings were cooked into everything with a broth, from beans to chowder, a generation or two ago.
My early exposure to seafood included fried catfish, occasionally grilled trout, and shrimp cocktail in a little glass jar found in the cold cut section of the grocery store. Oh, and fish sticks in the lunch room every Friday. Now, I can ride my bicycle to two fresh seafood markets. It's almost like heaven to me.
This week we enjoyed Clam Chowder with our neighbors, and then I made Beaufort Clam Soup with Cannellini Beans and Roasted Tomatoes. When the fresh, local clams are available, I can't help myself!
Beaufort Clam Soup with Cannellini Beans and Roasted Tomatoes (4 servings)

4 dozen fresh clams, cleaned (discard any clams that remain open)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups chardonnay wine
1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans, drained
1 can (15 oz.) fire roasted diced tomatoes with juice
2 tablespoons fresh basil cut into a chiffonade

Add butter and olive oil to wide bottomed pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion, cook until transparent (3-4 minutes) and then add garlic and cook for another minutes, stirring to combine. Add parsley, red pepper flakes and wine. When wine is heated to a simmer (you may need to increase heat a bit) add clams and cover pot. Let clams steam in wine for about 5 minutes, until they open. May take an extra minute or two. Discard any clams that do not open.
Remove clams to separate serving bowls and add beans and tomatoes to pan. Stir to combine and simmer for a few minutes. Sprinkle basil over clams. Then spoon hot soup mixture over clams and serve with crusty bread.

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