Monday, December 22, 2008

Nueva York Clam Dip

The powers that be have opened the fall/winter Washington razor clam season three weekends so far and I've missed them all. Good thing razors keep so well in the deep freeze. We've been busting out vacuum-sealed packets of last year's catch to keep pace with the comfort needs of the season, and while nothing beats a piping hot chowder on a wintry day, this Big Apple recipe for clam dip with a decidedly south-of-the-border twist is a close second if you have any leftover clams. As a pairing with potato chips and beer on a snowbound day of football-watching, it's just about perfect.

A single chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced, is enough to turn up the heat on what is ordinarily a fairly innocuous dip. Chopped cilantro, lime juice, and a garnish of festive red pepper and green scallions add extra zing. Otherwise it's the clams that puts gas in the tank. I can't remember where this recipe came from; now it's just a yellowed newspaper clipping taped to an index card. Chances are I got this from relatives down in Arkansas, who, despite being landlocked, know their football and their clam dips. Put this out at your Superbowl party with a couple bags of good chips (mine are Cape Cod, Tim's Cascade, or Kettle) and I guarantee you'll be throwing flags as you watch your guests lick the bowl before half-time.

18 littleneck clams or 6 razor clams
1 can of Rainier (Miller High Life is acceptable)
4 slices bacon, chopped
3 tbsp onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tbsp sour cream (or Mexican crema)
3 tbsp cilantro, chopped
Juice of half a lime
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
1/2 red pepper, diced
scallions, sliced for garnish
hot sauce to taste

1. With littleneck clams, steam open in beer, reserving 2 tablespoons of broth; if using frozen razor clams, thaw out and similarly save 2 tablespoons of liquor. Chop clams.

2. Fry bacon in skillet, then remove to paper towel with slotted spoon when crispy. Saute onion and garlic in bacon fat for a minute or two, then spoon into serving bowl. If using razor clams, saute in remaining fat for 5 minutes and add to bowl.

3. Whisk together softened cream cheese and sour cream in same bowl with clams, reserved clam juice, onions, garlic, bacon, cilantro, lime juice, chipotle pepper, half of diced red pepper, and a few dashes of hot sauce. Garnish with remaining diced red pepper and sliced scallions.

Yields about 2 cups.


Anonymous said...

Yum! That sounds tasty and interesting, and I am looking for something a little higher fat right now with all this freezing cold weather :)

Anonymous said...

FANTASTIC RECIPE!!! Made it Christmas morning. I had a stash of frozen softshell clams and Empire clam (Coos Bay, OR) bits from some of the really great low tides in early July. I don't know if the quantity was right according to your recipe. It was about a cup of clam bits.

I was worried the peppers would overwhelm my lovely clam flavor, but proceeded according to the recipe. It was just perfect. The chipotle comes on slowly after the initial sweet clam flavor.

The dip was made up, refrigerated from 10am until about 11:30 and it was devoured by 1pm.

I'm definitely marking those tides on my calendar and making sure I'm putting away more clams. MMMMMMMM.

Anonymous said...

Miller High Life is acceptable for a Ranier substitute? Sacrilege I tell you!

Langdon Cook said...

TroutGirl (is that the same TroutGirl from Burning Pram???), I'm thrilled the dip worked out so well for you. I was a little worried about the one chipotle pepper too; those suckers are hot! But as you say, the flavors marry well. Enjoy your low tides--I'm hitting the littleneck clam beds tomorrow...

Trixi, I snuck that in there for you. Thx for paying attention!