Thursday, July 12, 2012

Stuffed Quahogs a la Pojoaque

The market during an unfortunate zombie flare-up

Bucatini al a Matriciana from Babbo
Our local grocery store, the Pojoaque Supermarket, is no Wegmans, but it's a short walk or bike ride from our apartment, and has what I need for several dishes I make. They have delicious enchiladas on their hot lunch bar, a huge selection, half an aisle, of salsa red and green, mole and other sauces, dozens of different brands of tortillas, lots of pork with fat so it actually tastes like pork, all kinds of things you'd expect in a store where on most days when I go there every customer is speaking Spanish.

In their tiny selection of pasta, I'm amazed one day to find bucatini, used to make Bucatini al a Matriciana, a dish I'm usually forced to make with spaghetti, since even big markets back east rarely have bucatini. But tiny Pojoaque Supermarket has it, every day. Go figure.

Another oddity in a store with maybe one-third the number of items of a normal sized supermarket is clam juice. Pojoaque stocks two kinds, one a gourmet type from Maine that the Boston Globe called "The Sea in a Bottle". And there's not even a single fish market in all of Santa Fe.

Next thing you know, we discover canned cherrystones in Trader Joes. Cherrystones are usually eaten raw on the half shell, but they are nothing more than young quahogs. And what do we do with quahogs? We stuff them, that's all you can do with the big tough things. I can't do my normal stuffed quahog recipe, but I can certainly do something with these ingredients.

Since I can't steam these canned quahogs to get them to release their delicious juices, I buy two bottles of the Pojoaque clam juice. I use bottled clam juice in my fish chowder, it's good stuff. It turns out the canned clams have about a cup of very good clam juice too.

There's certainly not even one big quahog shell set here, so I'll use muffin tins. Everything else is the same as my east coast recipe except the quahogs. Being that they are central to the recipe, I wonder how it will turn out.

The stuffing (Pepperidge Farm Herbed, the one kind the market has, and the best one for this recipe) calls for two cups of liquid, but I give it half a cup more because it's going in the oven to crisp up.

Trader Joe's Whole Cherrystone Clams are really more the size of littlenecks, that is, smaller. No matter. I turn them into stuffed quahogs, and cook them up.

Verdict: Very good. Less intense than live quahogs, but well worth the 30 minutes of prep.

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