MoM June ’08: Food & Wine Magazine

We’re kicking off a new series here called “Magazine of the Month”, reviewing issues of food magazines, both the name brands and the more obscure, and choosing the best of the month to let the masses know (that’s you guys) if they are worth buying or not. (Note to magazine editors out there, yes we CAN be bought, and at reasonable rates to you, I might add.)

But until that happens, here is a completely unbiased review of one of the recipes in the latest issue of Food & Wine:

Pop-Open Clams with Horseradish-Tabasco Sauce

pop-open clams

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons drained horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sweet pimentón de la Vera (Spanish smoked paprika)
  • Salt
  • 2 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • Grilled slices of crusty white bread, for serving

Directions

  1. Light a grill. In a small bowl, blend the butter with the horseradish, Tabasco, lemon zest, lemon juice and pimentón de la Vera. Season with salt.
  2. Arrange the clams over high heat and grill until they pop open, about 25 seconds. Using tongs, carefully turn the clams over so the meat side is down. Grill for about 20 seconds longer, until the clam juices start simmering. Transfer the clams to a serving bowl. Top each clam with about 1/2 teaspoon of the horseradish-Tabasco sauce and serve with the grilled bread.

Now, what drew me to this one was that it was quick and I had never cooked clams before, especially not on the grill. I would love to have cool pictures of each step in the cooking process but I didn’t take any, so we’ll have to use the Theatre of the Mind. Imagine me mixing the butter, horseradish, Tabasco, and paprika together. Imagine that I tried to find smoked paprika at the store but they didn’t have it so I used regular paprika. Imagine that I forgot I needed lemon zest until I had squeezed the lemon and threw it away and then had to get it again to get the lemon zest. Imagine that again, but not as gross as the first time you imagined it.

Actually the sauce for this was really more of a flavored-butter than a sauce. So while it was great on the grilled bread, on the clams itself it was just ok. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The clams went on the grill, and they opened up just like the recipe it says, although it did take a bit longer than 25 seconds. As I was turning them over and the clam juice was spilling out and hissing all over the grill, I thought to myself, “Don’t we need that stuff in the clams?”

Verdict: These were not bad at all. Not great, but good. I think the main problem here was the cooking method. Some things need the grill, some things don’t. This particular recipe, I don’t think the grill helped much. Next time I would just do what I do with mussels, steam them in some white wine and garlic and plate ’em up.

Next up: Ginger-Garlic Shrimp with Tangy Tomato Sauce. One of those two things sucked, the other one freakin’ rocked. Find out which is which next time!!

~Citizen Chef

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