Chicken and Clams

Nothing goes together like chicken and clams.  Nevermind…

Surf and turf they call it.  Long associated with stained red lobster claws and tails, a hunk of juicy aged steak butter and potatoes.  Nothing says steak house like good ol’ drawn butter a bib and meat.   I like the flavor that clams and other seafood creatures lend to land critters when thrown together in a pot.  Just when I thought I was cooking for two, I then found out that I would be welcoming a third, so I decided to head down to my local seafood monger and bought some clams.   As I tasted the broth I knew that clams would be a great addition, not only would it stretch my meal but it would also give the braise additional broth when the clams open.

There is a heavy Italian influence here.  The kitchen staples to work, aromatics to start with and creating an inviting and aromatic dish.  This recipe allows the avid home cook to gain access to cooking a basic and delicious nonchalant dinner.  From this simple dish you can add olives, lemons, different meats,  different herbs.  Allow yourself to experiment with other root vegetables, as well as spices,  as well as using canned verses fresh tomatoes.

The marjoram and fresh herbs in this dish as well as the freshness of the tiny plum tomatoes sweeten and freshen the braise.  Instead of a braise it becomes a juicy stew, and thus is lighter than a thick and unctuous sauce.   Served over rice, or over pasta, maybe cous-cous, and even polenta it creates a delicious dinner for a mildly breezy summer night.

My pantry needs, Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, Lemons, Onions, Garlic, eggs, herbs, and canned tomatoes.  If I have that I can make and create a dinner in no time.  .

Chicken and Clam Stew w/Plum Tomatoes and Herbs over fresh Tagliarini
Serves 2-4
 
3-4 Chicken Legs
12-16 Manila Clams
1 C. Red Wine
1/4 C. Red Wine Vinegar
1 Medium Yellow Onion
1 C. Carrots
3 Cloves Garlic
1 T Each – Marjoram, Oregano, Thyme
Capers
1 1/2 C. Plum or Cherry Tomatoes
Olive Oil 
Salt 
 
You will need a pot that could go from stovetop to oven.   Salt and pepper chicken, let sit, pay dry.  Heat pan, add Olive Oil.  Add chicken and brown well.  
Remove chicken when skin side is well seared and browned.  Remove some fat from pan.  Add a bit more olive oil, and add onions and garlic and salt.  After about 4 minutes, add red wine, vinegar scrape pan.  Add herbs, carrots, tomatoes and 1 C. of water-cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes till tomatoes blister and pop.   Assist the popping by puncturing the tomatoes with a fork if needed.  Add Chicken, capers continue to cook for another 20 in a 375° oven. Take out of oven and add clams, place back into oven for another 10 min or so just enough until the clams pop open.  
 
Place atop fresh pasta and drizzle with some young olive oil. Yum.
 
 
[youtube http://youtu.be/AdimD8Z-ppY]

Sardines!

In homage to my new haircut and the crisp seas I’d like to try out a new and delicious fish dish that is O so easy to prepare withno fuss ingredients.

So lets start by admitting that everyone  absolutely loves small flavorful plates! Tapas style plates are delicious smaller morsels of food that are easily shared and enjoyed by a party of friends.

The idea for this flavor combustion of ingredients came from my experience as a little girl eating tin cans of sardines in a tomato sauce with lots of black pepper with translucent slivers of onions and aromatic garlic.  The oily and meaty Sardine can be a hard thing for people to consider eating, especially canned ones.  Good sardines can give a lively yet flavorful bounty of fish flavor without the horrible smell or taste so often associated with overripe fish. They aren’t bad, in fact they smell and taste rather clean and not very salty.  It’s a great item to have in your pantry.  I love them!  This became an extremely quick-lunch today. I served this along some long slivers of sweet carrots and fennel tossed simply with olive oil and a bit of sea salt, it was a perfect and extremely tasty meal for 2.  Can serve 3-4 as an appetizer.

Sardine in salsa di pomodori con i fagioli bianchi e le erbe (Translates into Sardines with tomatoes and white beans with herbs)

1 Tin Can Sardines packed in Olive Oil  (drained)
1/2 Yellow Onion (sliced in wedges along the grain 1/3 of an inch thick.)
2 med cloves garlic
1 T Parsley chopped
5 medium leaves of Basil (rough chopped)
2 round slices from a lemon
Toasted rustic loaf slices
1/2 can white beans
1/2 cup white wine
2 med tomatoes (roughly diced)
7-8 Kalamata olives (pitted and rough chopped)
1 tsp.Cayenne
1 tsp. Paprika
salt
pepper
Olive Oil

Directions:

Heat up pan on high and sweat the onions and garlic 3-4 minutes turn down heat to medium.  Add the tomatoes, the cayenne and paprika.  Add the white wine and simmer.

Add 1/2 a cup of water.  Add your drained sardines and olives.  Cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the lemon and simmer for 10 minutes then add beans. Do not over stir, just to heat beans through.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.   Softly simmer for another 6-8 minutes.  Toast some nice 1/2″ slices of a rustic white bread.  Lay bread nicely on a platter and douse with a flavorful olive oil.  Pour the Sardines and tomato sauce over the bread and sprinkle with the rough chopped herbs.  You can remove the large rounds or coins of lemons but its nice to see them on the plate. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve.

I can already tell that Sardines will continue to be a part of my diet for years to come.  This version is a bit of a change from the childhood sardines that I am normally used to.  I incorporated the creamy body of the beans along the savory zing of the olives and lemons for a bit of brightness.

I remember one lovely afternoon while watching the waves while all bundled up at the beach, my pastry chef reintroduced me to those wonderful meaty chunks reminding me how lovely preserved items can be.

And one of my all time favorite songs!