Clams in Sherry and Cream Sauce from Chucks Seafood Grotto
Other than why?, a familiar question I am often asked when cycle touring is how do you afford it? We all know eating out and travel isnt cheap but spending a few years of savings, getting a book deal, selling photos and getting some kind equipment sponsorship have all made my trips possible. However it is the kindness of strangers and restaurant owners along the way that have allowed me to eat like a king on a cyclists budget.
But there is no such thing as a free lunch and it doesn't always work and many restaurateurs, quite rightly, see no reason in giving a dirty Englishman on a bicycle a free meal. But when it dioes happen it is a joy and we all know that free food just tastes better. One of my happiest 'comped' meals came at Chucks Seafood Grotto in Snohomish, Washington.
Staying with the Newbold family in Seatle I had been promised that Chucks was not a restaurant to be missed but arriving a little late on a Sunday evening we were disappointed to find he was closed. Almost admitting defeat I decided on one last effort and went in to berate Chuck.
Chuck was a giant. At least seven feet tall and sporting a distinctive mullet haircut, only fitting of a man who owns a seafood restaurant, I shly explained our predicament while expecting to be removed from his restaurant with force. After hearing my spiel, Chuck gave me a wry smile and explained that he would look after me and look after me he did.
A dozen oysters on the half shell, Cajun razor clams, scallops with garlic, Chilean sea bass and his famed garlic prawns were all superb but a bowl of steamer clams left us all in a state of gastronomic delirium. If this meal had been served while sitting outside enjoying a Washington summers day with a crisp bottle of local wine I would have been able to go home.
Chuck if you are reading this you have set the bench mark for the perfect meal and I thank you and hope this recipe comes close to your magic.
- 2 pounds of fresh steamers clams
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1.5 cups of good dry sherry
- 1 cup [250 ml] double cream
- Smoked Paprika
- Salt and pepper
- Freshly chopped parsley
1. First up wash your clams with cold water and leave to drain.
2. In a casserole, over medium heat, melt butter and sweat the onion and garlic in melted butter for 5 minutes.
3. With a wooden spoon, stir in flour and cook for a further 2 minutes.
4. Now add your clams making sure not to add too many clams to the pan at once.
5. Slowly pour in the dry sherry and cook off the alcohol while continuing to stir.
6. The steam will open up the clams releasing that wonderful natural clam juice.
7. Lower the heat to a simmer and pour in the cream while still stirring.
8. Add a pinch of smoked Paprika and season with salt and pepper.
9. Sprinkle with some chopped parsley and prepare to be blown away.