Posts Tagged ‘mayonnaise’

Clams on the Half Shell with Fresh Mayonnaise

Once again, with this episode, my Good Eats project has led me to prepare a food item at home that I have never before prepared. This, to me, is the best part of this project, as I am learning to cook things I potentially would never have otherwise attempted. Clams, this time, were the subject of my exploration.

Though I have eaten other shellfish on the half shell (namely oysters), clams on the half shell were new to me. Really, this isn’t so much a recipe, but rather more of a method. Here’s a link to Alton’s recipe. All you really need for this preparation are fresh, live clams and a batch of Alton’s mayo, which I made previously. When eating raw clams, you want small clams (like littlenecks), as they are more tender than larger clams. When purchasing clams, you want to go to reputable seller and you want to purchase clams that are closed, very hard, and that sound like rocks when you tap them. My grocer had to special order littleneck clams for me and they seemed to be pretty fresh. Clams do sometimes open a little bit, even when they are alive, but they should close if you tap them; discard any clams that do not close when tapped. Also, it really is ideal to purchase clams the day you plan to serve them. Store them in your refrigerator before use in an open container that has been topped with a wet paper towel. When ready to serve your clams, dump them in a colander and give them a good rinse.

img_5186

Littleneck clams after being rinsed off.

Wipe off any additional grit in a clean tea towel. Next, set them in the freezer for 30 minutes before shucking, as this will make the process easier.

img_5187

Littlenecks, ready to be wiped dry in a tea towel before going in the freezer for 30 minutes.

To shuck, insert a butter knife into the groove at a “corner” of the shell, working the knife between the sides of the shell and prying it open.

Detach the meat from the shell by scraping it off of both sides of the shell with the knife, leaving the meat in the bottom side of the shell. Set your clams on a serving plate, topping each clam with some of Alton’s mayo.

img_5191

Not the greatest photo, but a shucked littleneck with Alton’s mayo.

My shells were really lopsided and toppled a bit, so setting them on a bed of greens may make a more attractive presentation. We ate our raw clams as an appetizer one evening, having just a handful or so each. When I eat raw shellfish, I prefer to have condiments, so I liked the addition of Alton’s mayo, which I love anyway. Since I’m a newbie to prepping raw shellfish, I get a little nervous when I am eating them at home, so I think I would have enjoyed raw clams more if I were eating them in a restaurant. Overall, I’ll say that we thought they were good, but not fantastic, and I don’t know that I’ll be jumping to prepare them again anytime soon.

Radonsky for the New Millennium 

For the second recipe in this episode, Alton used cherrystone clams, which are larger than littlenecks. I could not find cherrystone clams where I live, so I ended up using manila clams for this one.

img_5265

My manila clams.

As with the recipe above for clams on the half shell, you will want to shuck your clams, but for this preparation you will only want to detach the clam meat from one side of the shell. You will also want to discard the empty half of the shell from each clam.

img_5268

Shucked clams.

Mix together 1/4 C flour, 1/4 C breadcrumbs, 1 T freshly grated Parmesan, black pepper, and Kosher salt. Sprinkle the flour mixture liberallly over the shucked clams.

Melt 3 T bacon fat in a skillet over medium-high heat; we keep bacon fat in the refrigerator for occasions such as this.

img_5267

Bacon fat in the pan.

When the bacon fat has melted, fry the clams, shell side up, until they are golden brown and their shells have lightened in color.

img_5272

Clams frying in bacon fat.

Serve the clams with malt vinegar and parsley.

img_5275

My fried clams.

So, I really thought I would like these better than the clams on the half shell, but it turned out that we both found the clams to be too strong in flavor. I liked the crispy coating on the clams and the tang from the malt vinegar, but the clams I used were extremely briny in flavor and had a strong aftertaste that lingered. Perhaps this recipe would have been better with littlenecks? If I were to make this again, I would try it with littlenecks, or cherrystones if I could find them.

Clam Chowder

A clam episode would not be complete without a recipe for clam chowder. We always seem to eat more soup in the fall, so clam chowder seemed like a perfect thing to eat on a fall evening, though I am still clinging to the idea of summer. This recipe begins by rendering the fat from 3 ounces of salt pork or bacon over medium heat; I used Alton’s bacon that I made previously.

img_5192

Bacon fat rendering.

Once the fat is rendered, remove the meat pieces from the pan and save for another use. Add 1 1/2 C chopped onion to the pork fat and cook until translucent.

img_5195

Onion added to bacon fat.

Next, add 6 C of cubed russet potatoes, peeled (this is about 4 medium or 3 large russets). Add whole milk to the pan, just to cover the potatoes.

img_5197

Potatoes and whole milk added to pot.

Meanwhile, drain and reserve the juice from 14 ounces of canned clams, and chop the clam meat. You will want to have at least 1 C of clam juice; if you do not, add water to make 1 C of liquid.

Pour the clam juice into the bottom of a steamer and steam 12 clams over the clam juice, checking on them after 5 minutes.

img_5205

My clams, steaming over canned clam juice.

Remove the clams as soon as they open, as they will become tough if overcooked. Save the steaming liquid!

img_5208

Steamed clams.

When the clams are steamed, use an immersion blender to blend the potato mixture to your desired consistency – I left some lumps in mine.

To your blended soup, add ~1/2 of the steaming liquid and taste it. Alton cautioned that the steaming liquid can be quite salty, so you want to add it gradually. I wound up adding all of my steaming liquid, as it did not make my soup overly salty. Fold in your chopped canned clam meat.

img_5210

Canned clams and steaming liquid added to soup.

Top the soup with black pepper, sour cream, parsley, and grape tomatoes, and serve with steamed clams on the side.

img_5214

Clam chowder with parsley, pepper, tomatoes, sour cream, and steamed clams.

We both thought this chowder was great. It had lots of clam flavor and pieces, along with plenty of potatoes. Ted even declared this one of the best clam chowders he has had. I don’t know if serving the steamed clams on the side is even necessary, though it does make for a nice presentation. I was not sure about serving the soup with sour cream and tomatoes, but I actually quite liked the garnishes. I will make this one again. It makes for an easy weeknight meal.

While I have adored mustard for as long as I can remember, I have never been a fan of mayonnaise. That is to say, I have never liked store-bought mayonnaise, for I still remember the first time I tasted my dad’s homemade mayonnaise. I was skeptical when Dad insisted I try his mayo, for I had already convinced myself that I would not like it; I could not have been more wrong, for his mayo was completely different from every mayonnaise I had ever had. The problem was that it only further poisoned my taste for store-bought mayo! If you have never had homemade mayonnaise, it is a must-try!

Mayonnaise

Though I already knew I loved homemade mayonnaise, I had never actually made it before watching Alton’s mayonnaise episode of Good Eats. A little over a week ago, I set out to eliminate my “mayonnaise virgin” status. The ingredients you need for Alton’s mayo are an egg yolk, salt, dry mustard, sugar, lemon juice, champagne vinegar, and safflower or corn oil.

IMG_3947

Mayonnaise ingredients: corn oil, salt, egg, sugar, lemon juice, champagne vinegar, and dry mustard.

Mayonnaise is an emulsion of oil in liquid. Lecithin, a phospholipid in egg yolks, allows the emulsion to form because its phosphoric acid end dissolves in water, while its lipid end dissolves in oil; this keeps the oil droplets suspended in their surrounding liquid, rather than allowing them to pool together. Fresh eggs have higher amounts of lecithin, so it is best to use very fresh eggs for mayonnaise making. To begin Alton’s mayo, combine 2 t lemon juice with 1 T champagne vinegar.

IMG_3948

Champagne vinegar and lemon juice.

Next, in a glass bowl (do not use an aluminum or iron bowl, as they will turn your mayo gray), combine one egg yolk, 1/2 t salt, 1/2 t dry mustard, and 2 pinches sugar.

IMG_3950

One egg yolk, 1/2 t salt, 1/2 t dry mustard, and 2 pinches of sugar.

Add half of the lemon/vinegar mixture to the bowl and whisk everything until it is frothy.

IMG_3952

Half of vinegar/lemon juice added to bowl, and whisked until frothy.

Once frothy, slowly begin adding 1 C corn or safflower oil to the egg mixture a few drops at a time, whisking constantly. A plastic squeeze bottle is ideal for adding the oil slowly.

IMG_3955

A squeeze bottle for corn oil.

When about 1/4 of the oil is in the bowl, you can begin adding the remaining oil in a slow, steady stream, still whisking constantly. Once half of the oil is incorporated, add the remaining lemon juice/vinegar.

IMG_3958

My mayo after about 1/2 of oil incorporated. Remaining lemon juice and vinegar added.

Finish by adding the rest of the oil, still in a thin stream, whisking steadily until it is all incorporated. Your arm will have to whisk a lot, but it will be worth the effort! It is necessary to add the oil slowly and to whisk quickly to avoid having your emulsion break, or separate. Once your mayonnaise is complete, let it sit at room temperature for 4-8 hours. After that, refrigerate any remaining mayonnaise for up to a week.

IMG_3962

The delicious completed mayo.

This mayonnaise is delicious. We ate it primarily on sandwiches and it was gone within a matter of days. The mayo is tangy and has a rich mouthfeel. Aside from the whisking labor, this is easy and definitely worth the effort.

By the way, should your mayo happen to break, all is not lost. To fix a broken mayonnaise, whisk an egg yolk in a bowl until it is frothy. Slowly add the broken mayo to the egg yolk, whisking until incorporated. Ta-da!

Party Mayonnaise

As I type, I am closely monitoring a batch of my dad’s smoked salmon that I am smoking in my Alton Brown cardboard smoker. My dad traditionally serves his salmon with his “Dog Shit Sauce,” which is a fabulous aioli. Seeing as an aioli is essentially a mayonnaise (or at least a close relative), perhaps we will have to sample our freshly smoked salmon this evening with some Alton Party Mayo. Since we plowed through our first Alton mayo really quickly, I was onto making the second recipe from this episode a mere five days later. This recipe for mayonnaise uses a food processor, which I welcomed after making the first mayo by hand.

IMG_3963

Ingredients for party mayonnaise: corn oil, eggs, chile oil, salt, dry mustard, lime juice, champagne vinegar, and sugar.

To start Alton’s party mayonnaise, to a food processor add 1 t salt, 1/4 t sugar, 1 t dry mustard, 2 T champagne vinegar, 2 T lime juice, 1 egg, and 1 egg yolk.

IMG_3965

Salt, sugar, dry mustard, champagne vinegar, lime juice, one egg, and one egg yolk in food processor.

Pulse the mixture five times.

IMG_3966

After five pulses in the food processor.

Next, using the feeding tube, slowly add 2 C corn or safflower oil minus 2-3 T. In addition, add 2-3 T chile oil. I added 3 T.

IMG_3970

Oil slowly being incorporated through feeding tube.

IMG_3971

Alton’s party mayo.

Again, let the mayonnaise sit at room temperature for a few hours before refrigerating for up to a week. We liked this mayonnaise even more than Alton’s first mayo. This one has the added kick from the chile oil, which just pumps it up a notch. Plus, using the food processor makes this one come together in a snap. It has a slightly pinkish hue from the chile oil, which is kind of nice, along with the tang from the lemon and vinegar.

IMG_3972

This mayo is wonderful.

Again, we have used this mayo mostly for sandwiches so far, but I do think we will test some with our smoked salmon this evening. It would also make a great base for a killer tartar sauce. Do not miss making this mayonnaise. It is fantastic.