Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I Love Clam Pizza

I had no idea I loved it but now I know I do.
You don't see clam pizza very often. There are a few coal fired places in New York that offer it up and for whatever reason, it is somewhat of a specialty of New Haven, Connecticut. By and large, even these few and far between places use canned or frozen clam meat. A good idea that is usually a disappointment in practice.
The big man loves clams. And, he loves pizza. I thought we could step up this little known East Coast favorite with fresh clams, a heavy dose of freshly chopped garlic and top quality olive oil. I used what lately has become our house standard pizza crust, Jim Lahey's no-knead recipe, spread thin across an oiled baking pan. As a base I put down some very thinly sliced and chopped pancetta (lately I've been loving, believe it or not, an American brand -- mildly flavored La Quercia made in Iowa). I sprinkled on 6 cloves of minced garlic, about 4 dozen fresh shucked clams, roughly chopped, and a heavy covering of dried oregano. I drizzled the entire pizza with a flavorful olive oil (our new favorite, deliciously bitter arbequina oil from Olea Farms) and shredded pecorino romano cheese.
The question at Frank Pepe's Pizzeria Napoletana, a well known purveyor of coal fired clam pies and probably the place that made the treat a specialty of New Haven, is cheese or no cheese-- meaning a covering of melted mozzarealla. Traditionalists, I am told, say "no cheese". But, after about 15 minutes in the oven and after tasting our sharp Romano cheese I thought a dash of chewy mozzarella might just bring our flavors together nicely. Tradition be damned -- bring on the cheese.

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