Wednesday, June 23, 2010

St. Augustine Minorcan Clam Chowder

Long overdue post from April, since the oil spill and all, but we are still seeing clams in our NJ market as of this moment- the devastation in the Gulf however is horrible. When visiting St. Augustine, Florida a few months ago we enjoyed a good seafood meal at a small sea side shack. While looking at the menu I noticed this bottle of hot sauce sitting on the table.

Are you a hot sauce head like me? Do you put it on most foods you eat?

The Minorcan hot sauce had a unique flavor, so I stuck the bottle in my I resisted! They had bottles for sale, so I purchased one to take home- AFTER I ordered a bowl of their clam chowder, Minorcan Clam Chowder. Hooked and reeled in was I.

Normally I do not order clam chowder, not even Manhattan versions. Just not a favorite of mine, but this was good, unique flavor, and full of clams.

I found a local Florida blog who has a recipe on her site. She says adjustments were made, so I made my own pot, making adjustments as well.

I sliced a baguette and we sopped up the juice as we ate...

Minorcan Clam Chowder 

1/8 pound salt pork or smoked bacon chopped fine (I used thick cut bacon from whole foods)
2 large onions chopped

1 pound fresh clams (local NJ coast)
1-2 datil peppers, minced
3 cups canned plum tomatoes drained, seeded, and chopped
1/2 tablespoon thyme, crumbled
1/2 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons Minorcan Datil Pepper Hot Sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-2 bay leaves crushed
2- 8 ounce bottles clam juice
3 cups fish stock
2 cups red bliss potatoes, diced

Saute pork in large pot over medium heat until fat is rendered. Remove pork and set aside. Add onions, bell pepper, and cook until softened. Add datil pepper sauce, tomatoes, seasonings, clam juice, fish stock, and reserved pork. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes to meld flavors. Add potatoes and cook 30-45 minutes more. Add clams and once they all open, the chowder is ready. Discard any un-open clam shells (I separated the ingredients from the soupy part, and put the clams in to cook, let them open up and left them for presentation once I re-assembled the soup together in bowls, then saved a few for stuffed clams in the future).

Her recipe called for simmering one hour, I cut the time back- took off 20 minutes. There is room to play here. When chowders, soups, and chili sits it begins to meld, and plus I left out her original tomato puree addition to make it a bit more soupy; it thickens over night.