Sunday, January 3, 2010

Week's Work Clams

I started this recipe about a week ago.
Another blind following of the teachings of super chef Thomas Keller and another foray into gift cookbooks. About a week ago, wondering why I don't use my Bouchon cookbook more often (I think that one was last year's Christmas cookbook) I spied a neat little recipe for steamed clams. Manila clams are a household favorite and so I figured what better way to test Thomas.
Though simple at first glance these little clams required 3 sub-recipes (basics I believe Bouchon calls them), soffritto, garlic confit, and black olive tapenade. Somehow while making Christmas dinner I thought -- well I'm n the kitchen anyway, why not give these a try.
The soffritto, a long cooked mixture of onions and grated tomato pulp (no skins no seeds) took about 5 hours simmering (it's supposed to be over a diffuser, I don't have one so I used two burner grates of my gas stove piled up) on the stove. The garlic confit -- after peeling the 45 cloves of garlic, seemed like convenience food at only 45 minutes cooking time (but of course the garlic has to cool in the oil so wait a couple hours to wash that saucepan). The tapenade zipped by at less than 15 minutes (if you don't count pitting the oilves).
To assemble the finished dish I heated a pan on the stove. To the hot pan I added olive oil and to the warm oil I added minced shallots. Next went a healthy dollop of soffritto, minced thyme and 24 of my precious cloves of garlic confit. I stirred those a bit over medium heat, turned the heat up to high and added the clams and 4 TB of butter stirred those around a bit to mix in the flavor of the soffritto, added a cup of white wine covered the pan and steamed for about 2 minutes until the clams were just open and very tender.
Meanwhile I spread my not very pretty tapenade on diagonally long cut toasted slices of baguette, poured the clams and their delicious cooking liquid into bowls and another dinner is served.
This is the kind of recipe a cook thinks can't possibly be worth the time. And yet, James forbid me to throw out the left over cooking liquid ("this would be so good over spaghetti") an didn't look up except to tell me that the clams were better than anything we ate on our central coast New Year's vacation.
I guess I'll stick with Keller.

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