Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Recipes From A to Z: C is for Clams

 It's been awhile since I posted in this series, so, a refresher: My goal is to cook a meal with one ingredient I've never used before for each letter of the alphabet. I didn't set a time limit, but I'm hoping to be done by the end of the year. I created this series in an effort to break out of my dinner comfort zone, and find some new go-to recipes that the whole family would enjoy. (Not counting the 2-year-old. She won't eat anything but fresh fruit.)

 I didn't have to look hard to find an entry for C - I found a recipe for shortcut Manhattan Clam Chowder in a magazine, and I was halfway through before I realized, hey, I've never used clams before!

 I'm not a fan of clams, raw or cooked - too chewy. But I do like an occasional clam chowder, especially Manhattan-style, which is broth-y rather than creamy. The recipe in my Cooking Club magazine looked both easy and fast, so I gave it a try. The verdict: pretty good for a first attempt, but I found a few things to tweak for next time. Soup may sound easy, but it is improved by time and attention to detail. It takes a lot of layering of flavors to reach the depth and richness you want in a bowl of winter comfort. When you take shortcuts, you get something that might taste pretty good, but is just a little thin, which is what I ended up with here. Here's the recipe to try for yourself:

Quick and Easy Manhattan Clam Chowder
1 (10 oz.) can baby clams
2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups frozen potatoes O'Brien
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (8 oz.) bottle clam juice
1 tsp. pepper
2 T. chopped fresh parsley

1. Drain clams, reserving liquid. Cook bacon in medium saucepan over medium heat 5 -7 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally.
2. Add potatoes; reduce heat to medium low. Cook 3 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds or until fragrant, stirring constantly. Stir in tomatoes, bottled clam juice and reserved liquid; increase heat to medium high. Cover; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low to low; simmer 10 minutes. Stir in clams and pepper; simmer 3 minutes or until hot. Stir in parsley.

My notes: I didn't use the parsley, since I don't much care for it. Next time, I plan to pump up the flavors a bit with about 1 T. of Worcestershire sauce, some white pepper, and a dash of Tony Cachere seasoning (I like a little kick.) Also, I'll probably triple the amount of bacon, because, hey, more bacon = good. Sorry there's no photo, we ate it before I remembered I should take a picture.

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