MMMM. . . Almost as good as a (NV) buffet. . .Almost. [re-post from Dinner: A Love Story]

14 Jul

I grew up eating buffets in my home-state of Nevada. Let me tell you, if you THINK you hate buffets it’s because you’ve only tried Chinese buffets and yucky, sat-out-all-day countrified fair. Nevada depends on tourism–it is the whole of the state’s reveune. They want people to hang out in the casions all day and all night. If you have to leave to sleep, drink, or for a good meal, that is lost gambling money.  As a side-note, this is why you will never see homeless people or prostitutes near Nevada casinos–it’s bad for business.  The Battle-Born state wants tourists to feel as comfortable as possible.  This means you get complimentary beverages as long as you gamble (this includes alcohol), an attached hotel, and the greatest buffets you will find anywhere. Truly. This food is prepared fresh, by some of the best chefs. It’s not just the easy/cheap/greasy stuff of other states–Nevada buffets mean business!

Anyhow, one of my favorite things to grab at the line was clams. Among other things of course (just don’t grab the sushi unless you are actually at a cook-to-order sushi buffet).  The clams are like little animals still, involve pretty shells, and are drowned in delicious sauce. Who wouldn’t love them! So I was excited to see an easy recipe for them on one of my favorite blogs. Here is the excerpt:

Whenever we have people over, and even when we don’t, we do up a bowl of littlenecks from The Fish Guy at the farmer’s market, slice a fresh, crusty loaf of bread, set out some napkins and forks, and let that be our appetizer plate. We find that even if the kids won’t touch the clams, they’ll gladly take a hunk of that bread and dip it into that deep, salty broth. Which, as my parents always used to say, just means more good stuff for us grown-ups. There are endless variations to this dish — spicy, not spicy; garlicky, not garlicky; wine, no wine; basil, or tarragon — but it’s easy and fast, it only dirties up one pot, and clams are, on the farmer’s market spectrum, a relative bargain. Plus, there’s just something festive (and yes, I just used the word festive) about sitting outside with some friends on a summer night, as dinner sizzles on the grill, burning through a bowl of clams and a loaf of bread and tossing the shells — clank, clank, clank — back into the bowl. That’s living. – Andy

Steamed Little Necks
Maybe the best part: there’s no stress about overcooking or undercooking when it comes to clams; these things literally open their mouths and tell you when they’re done.

In a Dutch Oven set over medium heat, saute 1 chopped shallot (or spring onion, which we got at our farmer’s market), 1 minced garlic clove, a few shakes of red pepper flakes and some freshly ground pepper in olive oil. (The clams provide their own salt, so hold off until the end and decide if it needs more.) When onion is soft, add about a two dozen fresh clams (about six per person), washed and scrubbed, and a 1/4 cup white or rose wine. Cover and reduce heat to medium low. When the clams steam open, about five to ten minutes, add a handful of chopped tomatoes (any shape or color), some chopped fresh basil, and simmer another two or three minutes. Discard any clams that haven’t opened, and pour into serving bowl. Serve with sliced, crusty bread for sopping. And cold wine.

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