Clams with Fennel & Chorizo

For as much as we love to cook, seafood is one of the types of food that we don’t cook a lot of at home. It’s sort of an odd observation because we LOVE seafood. Calli will host an annual lobster dinner every summer for her birthday, but if we aren’t splurging on lobsters and want something special, we usually go with clams. We love a good clams and linguini situation, but to mix things up and add a little something unexpected we have chosen to make this recipe for clams with fennel and chorizo. What we love about this dish is the mix of flavors- you get some smoke and spice from the chorizo, that sort of indescribable fresh licorice (ish) taste from the fennel, and of course the briny salty flavor from the clams. We have used littleneck clams for this recipe, but your favorite variety will work great in this dish.

Clams with Fennel & Chorizo

  • Servings: 2
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  We love the mix of flavors the chorizo and fennel add to fresh clams. We love this recipe for a nice summer dinner with lots of crusty bread to soak up all the sauce at the bottom of the bowl.

Ingredients

  • 2 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed clean with a brush and rinsed under water
  • 8 oz chorizo
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 large bulb fennel, stem removed and thinly sliced (reserve the fronds for garnish)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • pinch of chili flakes
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup seafood or vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Put the clams into a large bowl with ice water. Let the clams sit in the ice water for 30 minutes while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
  2. Half way into the clams soaking, heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and chorizo to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the chorizo is starting to crisp up and the oil in the pan is starting to turn the color of the chorizo. Add the fennel and onion to the pan, cooking for another 3-4 minutes, or until they both have started to soften. Add the garlic and red chili flakes, cooking another 2 minutes or so, or until the garlic is fragrant.
  3. Add the white wine and stock to the pan. Stir everything well to combine. Drain the clams from the ice water (rinsing again if necessary to make sure they are free from dirt) and add the clams to the pan. Cover the clams and cook over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes, or until the clams have opened up. Toss everything gently with a ladle so that the clams get some of the fennel and chorizo broth in the shells.
  4. Divide the clams and broth amongst two large bowls. Top with fennel fronds if desired and serve with crusty bread for dipping.


Grilled Calamari Steaks With Lemon Caper Sauce

When Tate’s family was living in Chicago, they became obsessed with eating the grilled calamari from Saranellos in the northern suburbs. The dish was perfectly created to feel light yet flavorful and filling. We were recently on a weekly grocery trip and discovered calamari steaks at the fish stand. Calamari can be a little tricky to cook. The secret to success on this dish is cooking the steaks at very high heat for only 2 minutes per side. We have paired the steaks with arugula and a lemon caper sauce. This is a great weekday lunch or dinner or can be paired with some hearty side dishes for a weekend with friends. 

Grilled Calamari Steaks with Lemon Caper Sauce
Makes: 4 lunch servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes    Total Time: 25 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 4 calamari steaks 
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 tbs flour
  • 1 lemon, juiced 
  • 1 cup chicken stock 
  • 1 container capers (approx 2.25 oz), drained 
  • 1 bag (approx 6 cups) arugula
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly  
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

  1. Pat the calamari steaks dry with a paper towel. Season them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Over a high heated grill (at least 500 degrees), grill the steaks for 2 minutes per side and set aside. 
  2. Make the lemon caper sauce. In a pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour until you get a thick paste. Keep whisking and add the lemon juice and chicken stock. The sauce should thicken. When it is as your desired texture, add the capers and turn the heat off and set aside. 
  3. Assemble the dish by placing the arugula on the bottom of your serving dishes. Top with the red onion and the calamari steaks. Drizzle over a few spoonfuls of the lemon caper sauce. 

Summer Crab Leg Boil

Every June Tate’s mom celebrates her birthday with a crab boil. It is a special treat that we have started looking forward to every summer. Over the years we have started perfecting the art of the crab boil and now just mix and match fun accompaniments to the meal to change it up every year. King crab legs are usually purchased pre-cooked and all you need to do is reheat them to serve. We choose to reheat them by steaming them in our giant turkey fryer pot, and boil any other side dishes underneath in a traditional seafood boil. We buy our crab legs at Costco; we have found they have the most reasonable prices and they can usually be found in the freezer section if they are not having their holiday seafood sale.

Tips For Measuring the Correct Amount of Water For the Seafood Boil: 

  • To determine how much water you’ll need for steaming crab legs, you’ll want to visually measure out enough water to cover your side dish ingredients, including sausage, potatoes, and corn. Shrimp, clams, and mussels can be steamed on top of the other ingredients with the crab legs so they don’t factor into the water measurement. 
  • If you are paranoid about not having enough water you can put the raw potatoes, corn, and sausage into the pot, add the beer, and add enough water to cover the ingredients. Remove the ingredients back out before seasoning the water and cooking. 
  • If your pot isn’t quite tall enough you can use foil over the top to tent the crab legs as a lid to keep the steam in. 

Summer Crab Leg Boil 
Makes: 4 servings 
Prep Time: 45 minutes Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients For The Water: 

  • 4 cups (+/-) water
  • 1 summer beer (shandy or pilsner are good choices) 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 2 lemons, cut in half 
  • 3 tbs Old Bay seasoning 
  • 4 smashed garlic cloves 

Ingredients For the Seafood Boil: 

  • 4-6 king crab legs (thawed if purchased frozen)
  • 2 lbs kielbasa
  • 2 lbs other seafood (shrimp, clams, or mussels) 
  • 4 ears of corn, husked
  • 2 lbs baby potatoes
  • 1 stick salted butter for dipping, melted 

Directions: 

  1. Measure out the correct amount of water so that the combination of the water and beer will be enough to submerge any of your chosen side dish ingredients (sausage, potatoes, and corn). Add the beer, bay leaves, Old Bay Seasoning, and garlic to the pot. Squeeze each of the lemon halves and add them as well. You can taste the water if you want at this point- it won’t taste particularly good but it should taste very flavorful. If it doesn’t, add another tablespoon or two of Old Bay seasoning. 
  2. If you are using potatoes or sausage, put them into the water in the pot. Heat the pot over high heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce the heat just a touch so that the water is at a steady simmer, cover with a lid, and cook for 20 minutes. 
  3. While the pot is heating and doing the first cook, make sure any seafood you are using is clean. Peel and devein the shrimp (the tails can be left on) and soak any clams or mussels in ice water. They will release a bit of sand that you don’t want going into the boiling water. 
  4. After 20 minutes remove the lid and add the corn to the pot. Strain any seafood from the soaking water and add the seafood on top of the corn in an even layer.  Add the crab legs thick side down, bending the crab legs as necessary to get them in the pot. Cover the pot and cook the seafood another 15-20 minutes. You will know the boil is done when the shrimp are cooked through, potatoes are fork tender, the crab legs are hot, and any clams and mussels have opened. 
  5. Carefully remove the ingredients from the water with a strainer, getting rid of as much water as possible before placing onto a platter. Serve the seafood boil immediately with lots of melted butter for dipping!