Sunday night at The Kitchen Island, after a hard day of arduously relaxing aboard Faith under sail on the Chesapeake Bay, a less formal – but no less formidable – dinner is the order of the day. Home-made pizza with bacon and fresh clams is guaranteed to fill the bill!
While the Fair Wanda assembled the ingredients and sipped a glass of Pinot Gris, I availed myself of an adult beverage – and began salivating over the growing array of delicious components being readied for the evening’s repast. But Webster’s job is to handle the photography, so I’ll let Wanda take it from here.
One recent Sunday morning, as we were flipping through the inspirational pages of the September 2013 edition of Bon Appetit, we stumbled upon this coastal delicacy. Blanched garlic, which is sweet and mild, is blended with briny clam liquor and olive oil to make a creamy white sauce for this unconventional, unbelievably delicious, gastronomic tour de force!
Before we embarked on this recipe, our biggest concern was the time and effort required to blanch the garlic. However, never ones to shy away from a culinary challenge, we reached for our chef’s knives and jumped in with both burners! As it turned out, the effort was minimal – the time required was essentially waiting for the water to boil which allowed for a few extra sips of a charming Sonoma region pinot gris. On top of that, the amount of sauce we ended up with far exceeded what we needed and we’re going to experiment by adding this flavorful elixir to future creations at The Kitchen Island. Make sure you refrigerate your remaining sauce and leave a comment here on our blog describing how you used it.
Bob Appetit states that you can find this dish on the menu at Area Four, a restaurant in Cambridge, MA. Now, we haven’t been there to confirm this claim, but Bon Appetit has never let us down before. If you don’t happen to be scheduled to appear in Cambridge, MA, any time soon, here’s how we did it.
2 heads of garlic, separated into cloves, peeled. (Watch as Wanda shows how to peel garlic.)
24 littleneck clams, scrubbed
2 Tbsp. olive oil plus more
8 oz. thick-cut bacon, sliced crosswise 1/4” thick
1 lb. prepared pizza dough, room temperature
1 oz. Pecorino, finely grated (about 1/2 cup)
Fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves and crushed red pepper flakes (for serving)
1. Bring garlic and 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Drain. Repeat process twice more. On final turn, do not drain; reduce heat and simmer until garlic is tender, 20–30 minutes. Drain; reserve garlic.(Watch as Wanda shows how to peel garlic.)
2. Cook clams and 1/4 cup water in a large pot over medium-high heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until clams open, about 5 minutes (discard any clams that do not open); transfer to a large bowl. Strain clam cooking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Remove clams from shells and coarsely chop. Place in a medium bowl, cover, and chill.
3. Purée reserved garlic, 1/2 cup clam cooking liquid, and 2 Tbsp. oil in a blender, adding more cooking liquid by the tablespoonful, until smooth and creamy. It should look like this:
4. Preheat oven to 500°. Cook bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat until fat renders and bacon is slightly crisp, about 5 minutes; transfer to a paper towel–lined plate.
5. Cut pizza dough in half. Working with 1 piece at a time and keeping other piece covered with a damp towel or plastic wrap, gently stretch dough into 12”–14” rounds and transfer to lightly oiled baking sheets.
6. Brush the dough with the garlic purée.
7. Top with Pecorino, clams, and bacon.
8. Bake pizzas until cheese is melted and crust is brown and crisp, 10–15 minutes.
9. Drizzle with oil and top with parsley and red pepper flakes.
Webster chose a 2011 Collezione di Paolo Chianti which we enjoyed. Two pizzas were a little much for the two of us, but the Bug promptly demolished the remaining few pieces when she awoke at the crack of noon the next day. An appropriate breakfast menu item for a twenty-something, indeed!