M. Andrew Gordon

Archive for September, 2010|Monthly archive page

Just Add…Chouriço

In Appetizers, Seafood on September 21, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Stuffed Quahogs

Stuffed quahogs – “stuffies” in some circles – are a Southeastern Massachusetts delicacy.  Well, delicacy might not be strictly accurate, as most examples of stuffed quahogs leave a lot to be desired.  They are far too often like bad Thanksgiving stuffing, a disappointing and listless mass of soaked bread with far too little clam actually present masquerading for the real thing.  The childhood memory I have of stuffed quahogs made by my grandmother has surely been altered over time as I’ve likely transposed my conviction on what a stuffed quahog should be like to that memory.  But I do recall vividly going quahogging, or clamming if you will, with my brother, father, and grandfather, back when it was okay to ride in the back of a pickup truck.

Over the Labor Day Weekend, Lena and I were staying at her parent’s house on Cape Cod.  Besides gorgeous views and fantastic weather, we ate ridiculously well.  We walked down the water and harvested a bucket of quahogs for clam chowder and the stuffed quahogs, having a decadent feast.  Freshly dug clams aren’t necessary, but it surely doesn’t hurt!

The ideal stuffed quahog should have lots of chopped clam, some large bread crumbs to build the base, sautéed onion and garlic, and chouriço.  Not chorizo or spicy Italian sausage, but chouriço, the Portuguese smoked pork sausage that is redolent with garlic, black pepper, and wine.   The other sausages will do in a pinch, and bacon isn’t a half-bad substitute at all, but if you can find chouriço it is well worth it.

Once you have the ingredients, the only other thing to worry about is the texture.  By saving some of the clam liquor, or clam juice, you can add just the amount needed to make the mixture damp but not wet.  It should be almost like a dough or a crabcake, just damp enough to hold its shape but not too dry or wet that it crumbles apart.

Stuffed Quahogs

Stuffed quahogs before roasting; the filling should glisten but not be sodden

Serves 4 to 6

  • 12 large quahogs
  • 1/3 lb chouriço
  • 1 ½ cups cornbread, crumbled
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.  Shuck quahogs, reserving liquor.  Or, alternatively, steam quahogs just until they open, let cool, and remove the meat over a bowl, reserving juice.  Strain clam liquor or juice and reserve.  Tear quahog shells into two separate halves.
  2. Melt butter in medium skillet.  Add onion and garlic.  Cook until soft but not browned.
  3. Chop clams.  Mix in onion, garlic, lemon juice and cornbread.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add ¼ cup of the reserved clam juice and mix.  Add juice if necessary.
  4. Spoon mixture into half the quahog shells.  Roast for 12 minutes and broil for one to two minutes to brown the top.  Serve with lemon wedges and hot sauce.

Three Salads

In Side Dishes on September 8, 2010 at 7:36 pm

There is probably little to be said here – below are three salads that serve well as side dishes.  One is a variation on the perennial favorite potato salad.  I like to roast my potatoes, giving the salad a greater depth than most boiled potato versions.  The dressing is simple, playing off the herbs and trying not to drown the potato in a mess of mayonnaise or bludgeon it with vinegar.

Another is a paean to late summer produce, combining the sweetness of corn and peaches in a dressing that manages to just capture the two predominant flavors.  I combine raw corn, because I like the texture and sugary flavor with cooked corn, which has a more mellow sweet note.  In another variation on that salad, I added chopped tomato and smoked mozzarella to great effect.   In other words, it is a versatile canvas for other flavors.

The final salad was a last minute side dish on an early September weeknight.  I wanted something that pulled together quickly.  By shredding the Brussel’s sprouts and the carrots, they cook very quickly and the cranberry-chipotle syrup was leftover from fried chicken and waffles the night before.  The syrup is more of a sauce, though, and actually would form the basis of a killer salad dressing.

Roasted Potato Salad

Serves 8

  • 2 lbs potatoes, washed and cut into ½ inch pieces
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 stalk celery, strings removed and chopped
  • 1 small red pepper, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (basil, chives, thyme, sage)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.  Toss potatoes with oil and salt and pepper.  Roast for 35-40 minutes, turning pan once and stirring potatoes every 10 minutes.
  2. Place potatoes in a bowl and add celery and pepper.
  3. In separate bowl, combine mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, herbs, and lemon juice.  Pour over potatoes and toss to coat.

Variation:   Cook 6 ounces of bacon until crisp.  Let cool and crumble over potatoes.

Corn-and-Peach Salad

Serves 8

  • 8 ears corn, husked
  • 4 medium peaches, peeled, pitted, and chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Cut kernels from corn and divide in half.  Over one bowl, scrape all eight ears to release juice.  Heat a cast iron or stainless skillet over high heat.  Add the half of the kernels that did not have the corn juice.  Cook until well-charred, stirring often, and remove.
  2. Add butter and half the lime juice to skillet, stirring to break up any brown bits.  Pour over the cooked corn and let cool, about 5 minutes.
  3. In large bowl, combine raw corn, cooked corn, peaches, and red pepper.  In smaller bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, cumin, chile powder, basil, and remaining lime juice.  Season with salt and pepper and pour over corn mixture.  Stir to coat serve.

Brussel’s Sprout-Carrot Salad

  • 2 cups shredded Brussel’s sprouts
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons cranberry-chipotle syrup
  1. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat.  Add Brussel’s sprouts and carrots and stir to coat.  Let cook for 8 minutes, stirring regularly.
  2. Add cranberry-chipotle syrup and continue cooking for 2-4 minutes.  Serve.

Cranberry-Chipotle Syrup

Makes 2 ½ cups

  • 2 cups dried cranberries
  • 2 cups water
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon chipotle puree
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. Combine cranberries, water, honey, vinegar, and chipotle in a sauce pan and place over medium heat.  Cook for 20 minutes, until cranberries are very soft and liquid has reduced by half.
  2. Add the butter and continue cooking until melted.  Let cool slightly, transfer to blender or food processor, and puree.