Wednesday, August 3, 2011
The Famous Newsday Clam Casserole
Hi everyone, I'm Fugs and I'm a cooking addict. (Altogether - "Hi Fugs!")
Ok blow me. Just kidding.
So I'm going to do a blog about ribs this weekend, but I wanted to get my feet wet with this site. I'm going to post a recipe that is near and dear to me, as it is one that my mom made a staple in her kitchen during the 70's and 80's. It is the classic "Newsday Clam Casserole."
My passion for cooking comes directly from my Mom, and for me it wasn't just about good food, but about the social universe that was her kitchen. She owned the joint, and it was a comforting thing to know that fact as a young lad. This was where mom should and would always be, you know? It seemed somehow easier to sleep at night as a child with that image dancing in my garlicy little head. While some women rebelled against this notion during that time that was not at all my mom - again, she owned it. If you knew what it was like to steal a meatball out of the saucepot on a Sunday afternoon when your mom "wasn't looking" then you know what I'm saying.
I want and try to recreate that feeling in my own family kitchen every day. My wife can't boil an egg, so I am the family cook - but I don't complain. Even though I'm Dad and work full time, cut the grass, take out the garbage, fix what's broken and do all that other dad stuff, when it comes to the kitchen (like my mom,) I OWN it. I want my kids to feel those same good feelings and the communal groovyness of gathering at the table for a well done meal, made with a lot of love,...and alcohol. But let's be honest, those feelings of nostalgia wouldn't mean shite if the food weren't good, right??
Mom got this recipe out of Newsday in like 1974, thus the name, The Newsday Clam Casserole. The little weekly recipe gig was next to Ann Lander's column on about page B-16 for those who grew up on LI like me. I use canned clams here, but if you are a shi shi snotty kind of person, or have incredible amounts of disposable income and time you can buy about 4 dozen cherrystones, shuck 'em, mince 'em, reserve the liquid, and then hit yourself in the head with a mallet because you won't taste a damn bit of difference.
The Newsday Clam Casserole
4 slices of Bacon, cooked crisp and broken up into small pieces
4 cans minced clams, Drained; with juice reserved, get some bottled clam juice if needed too.
1 large yellow onion – diced fine
8 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 Tbsp dry Oregano
1 tsp Garlic Powder (or to taste – I like more)
Fresh squeezed lemon juice – about 1/4 of a lemon
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 to 2 cups of Plain Bread Crumbs
Dash of Tabasco or to taste
Dash cayenne pepper or to taste
Butter for greasing baking pan
Appx. ½ cup of grated hard Italian Cheese (Parmesan or Romano) in all
Lemon Wedges and Fresh Parsley fronds for Garnish
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large pan, Cook bacon crisp, break into small pieces and reserve – drain most of the bacon grease – leave a tablespoon or so in the pan.
2. Sauté diced onion in reserved bacon grease with Olive Oil added. When onion is translucent add dry spices (Oregano, Salt, Peppers, Bay Leaves, Garlic Powder,) Continue to sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes or so, then add fresh garlic and sauté another 5 minutes until Garlic is softened.
3. Add clams to mixture and cook until clams are heated – maybe 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add most of the reserved clam juice (save a little for the later – see stage 4, below), lemon juice, and Tabasco. Raise heat, stirring and continuing to cook another 3-5 minutes or so until mixture is mildly boiling.
4. Begin to add bread crumbs to mixture, a little at a time, until mixture resembles coarse oatmeal. If it gets too dry add a little more clam juice or water – if it is too wet add more bread crumbs – use your judgment. Turn off heat once you have desired consistency and add about ¼ cup of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. Add bacon last. Taste the mixture at this point and adjust seasonings – it should NOT be too salty (it will get saltier with the added cheese and absorbing the liquid while cooking.) In case you're drinking heavily don't forget to remove the bay leaves at some point.
5. Grease a Medium Casserole or Pie Dish with butter. Pour Clam mixture in and top with the rest of the grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese. Bake for 35 minutes or until top is golden brown and mixture is bubbly – raise temperature to 425 degrees for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until the edges crisp up a little if needed.
6. Remove from oven and let set for at least 15 minutes. It is too hot and mushy when it comes out of the oven to serve - don’t forget this step! Serve slices with lemon wedges and fresh parsley frond for garnish.
You can also use this recipe to make baked clams in shells (real ones or foil ones) to serve as appetizers – or topped with a little melted Monterrey Jack cheese for “Clams Casino” Again, you can use fresh chopped clams too but will need some bottled clam juice to make up for the liquid required. I don't find it's worth it, canned are fine for this kind of thing.
Posted by Fugs1 at 12:01 AM