Sformato di Patate e Vongole

Potato and Clam Pudding

My Fondness for cooking seafood and potatoes together has been disclosed elsewhere in this book Mussels Baked with Potatoes and Fresh Tomatoes, Baked Shrimp With Asparagus. Here is another example.

Clam meat is chopped fine and quickly insaporita—flavor coated—with garlic and parsley sautéed in olive oil and its own boiled-down juices. Potatoes are boiled and mashed through a food mill or ricer. The two are mixed and baked, with bread crumbs, in an ovenproof serving dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 dozen littleneck clams
  • ½ cup water
  • pounds boiling potatoes
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus tablespoons
  • 2 teaspoons garlic chopped very fine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Black pepper in a grinder
  • Salt
  • ½ cup fine, dry, unflavored bread crumbs, toasted lightly in a pan as described

Method

  1. Wash the clams in many changes of cold water, scrubbing every shell, one against the other or with a stiff brush.
  2. Choose a broad, shallow pot with a lid. Put in the ½ cup of water and the clams, cover the pot, and turn on the heat to high. Turn the clams over from time to time. As soon as any clam unclenches its shell, transfer it to a bowl, using tongs or a slotted spoon.
  3. When all the clams have opened up and have been put into a bowl, pour the juices from the pan into another bowl, pouring with care to leave as much sand as possible behind.
  4. Detach the clam meat from the shells. Put it in the bowl containing the clam juice, swish it lightly to rinse it of any sand, then put it on a cutting board and chop all the clam meat rather fine.
  5. Filter the clam juice through a strainer lined with a paper towel. Put the chopped clams into the filtered juice.
  6. Turn on the oven to 450°.
  7. Wash the potatoes and put them in a pot with enough water to cover amply. Turn on the heat to medium and bring to a boil.
  8. While the potatoes are cooking, put the ½ cup of olive oil and the chopped garlic in a skillet or sauté pan. Turn on the heat to medium and cook until the garlic becomes colored a very pale nut brown. Add the parsley quickly, stir once or twice, then add the chopped clams with their juice. Raise the heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the clam juice has evaporated and the only liquid left is olive oil. Remove from the heat.
  9. When the potatoes are done, drain them and peel them as soon as you are able to handle them. Pass them through a food mill fitted with a disk with small holes or through a potato ricer. Do not use a food processor or a blender because it would make the potato mash gluey.
  10. Add to the potatoes the entire contents of the pan in which the clams were sautéed. Mix thoroughly to obtain a uniform blend of all the ingredients. Add several grindings of pepper and taste and correct for salt.
  11. Coat the bottom of an oven-to-table baking dish with a thin film of olive oil, using a tablespoon or less. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the oil. Turn the dish over onto a sheet of wax paper or foil and give it a sharp rap to shake off all loose crumbs.
  12. Put the potato and clam mixture in the baking dish, distributing it evenly with a spatula. Over it sprinkle the leftover bread crumbs and pour on the remaining olive oil in a thin stream, making a crisscross pattern. Place in the uppermost level of the preheated oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to settle for a few minutes before serving.

Serving Suggestions

It would be a well-chosen part of a seafood buffet offering both warm and cold dishes. It also makes an appetizing light lunch.

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