Summer Clam Bake

July 6, 2009 10:01:30 AM PDT
Clam bakes are a summer tradition in many parts of the country. But you may think it's too difficult to pull off at home. Chef Greg Biggers from Fulton's on the River in Chicago says, just follow his recipes to bring a clam bake to your backyard.Or if you prefer to have the chef do the cooking for you, head over to Fulton's on Tuesday, July 7 and August 4. From 5 to 8:00 pm, Fulton's will offer all-you-can eat clam bakes along with two Hoegaarden beers for $22. Sample menu items including Baked Stone-neck Clams with brown butter bread crumbs, roasted garlic, fresh parsley, and horseradish hollandaise; Hoegaarden Steamed Razor clams, and Green Lip Mussels, Sweet New Queens corn on the cob and Jalapeño-Wisconsin white cheddar corn bread with honey butter are served on family-style picnic tables where guests can grab their seaside favorites and enjoy a cold beer with friends.

Chef Greg has some tips for preparing clams at home:

Buying:

Always look for closed clams. Clams like other shellfish are best when purchased alive. If a clam's shell is opened, that is a sign that the clam is no longer live and not at its freshest state. Always smell any shellfish before buying. If it puts off a fishy smell that is obviously unpleasant, skip and move on to some fresher clams.

Storing:

Before cooking it is very important to clean your clams of all sediment. This can be done easily with cold water and a clean sponge.

In the restaurant, we like to store the clams in salted water, the environment that they are use to. The best tip for how much salt to use, is just make it taste like the ocean. Use just enough water to cover the clams completely. Place them in the refrigerator and reserve until needed. You can store them with no problem for 2-3 days.

Preparing:

There are two methods for preparing clams; shucking and steaming.

When shucking clams you will need a clam knife which is available at any specialty food store. You must be very careful when using this method, clams can be very slippery. Place the clam in a folded heavy duty kitchen towel, leaving the hinge portion exposed. This will protect your hand if the clam knife slips. Find an opening at the hinge and place the knife in side and pry it open. Once the clam has been opened, remove the meat from the shell by scraping connective mussel with the clam knife.

Steaming clams is a very easy preparation. Place clams in a large pot with desired liquid. Cover pot and bring liquid up to a simmer and turn down to medium heat, and cover. When looking for doneness, make sure the clams open up on there own and look very plump. This usually takes about 5-7 minutes depending on the type of clams. If there are clams that do not open up at all after steaming, discard them. You must be very careful not to over cook the clams. Clam begin to shrivel up and become dry if cooked too long.

Fulton's on the River is located at 315 N. LaSalle Street, Chicago 60654; for reservations call 312-822-0100 or visit www.fultonsontheriver.com .

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