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Sweet Cedar Key Littleneck Clams are one of my favorite bivalves to cook, and steaming them is so easy to do. They pop open, so there is no shucking involved, and tossed with pasta or served with a flavorful broth, they are a delight to the taste buds, especially when being sopped up with a crusty piece of warm bread. Florida clams come in many different sizes, but plan to use little neck clams with this recipe, containing 10 to 13 per pound.
Since Florida banned gill nets over 20 years ago, University of Florida researchers have helped Cedar Key replace commercial fishing with aquaculture, which is now among the most productive clam farming regions in the United States.
Cedar Key is located on Florida’s Gulf Coast about an hour’s drive southwest of Gainesville, where the tiny cluster of islands evoke “old Florida” charm, showcase thriving fishing opportunities, and lush natural preserves with parks to explore. Named for the Eastern Red Cedar once abundant in the area, Cedar Key was the western terminus that supplied cedar, cypress and pine products such as rosin and turpentine by way of the Florida Railroad, the first to connect the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts in 1861. Today, we can enjoy fresh Cedar Key Littleneck hard clams prepared in our local restaurants, like Boshamps Seafood & Oyster House in Destin, or at home by purchasing them from a trusted purveyor like Destin Ice Seafood Market.
Andi Bell is classically trained chef with a focus on French techniques and defines his ‘Gulf to Table Southern Cuisine’ as locally caught fresh seafood harvested directly from the Gulf and surrounding waters by regional fisherman, that is served directly to the table just as it was in the days gone by. A Destin tradition. It is the chef’s preference to combine each day’s fresh catch with locally sourced produce to promote sustainability throughout the natural food chain, both on land and at sea. Chef Andi Bell’s knowledge of seafood came from spending many childhood summers vacationing at Destin’s Silver Beach Motel and at his family’s vacation home on Andros, Bahamas. He also spent time at his grandparent’s farm in Blount County, Alabama, where he acquired an early appreciation for the direct relationship he had with food. For two decades, Chef Bell has worked for the Phillips family in Destin, first at Flamingo Café and now at Boshamps Seafood & Oyster House. While at Flamingo Café, he received a Rising Star of American Cuisine award from the James Beard Foundation, one of the top culinary honors in the United States.
Please join me (30AEats.com) and Chef Andi Bell at Le Creuset Silver Sands Factory Outlet location on March 1 at 6pm for a delicious cooking demonstration of Cedar Key Littleneck Clams, and visit Le Creuset online to see the vast array of beautiful and time-tested cookware and accessories they offer.
Cedar Key Littleneck Clams
By: Chef Andi Bell
4 – 6 Tbsp blended olive oil
7 grape tomatoes
9 each clams, washed
5 slices of chorizo
2 Tbsp carrot (brunoise cut)
2 Tbsp celery (brunoise cut)
2 Tbsp onion, (brunoise cut)
1/2 Tbsp fresh garlic (chopped)
1 sprig of thyme
1/2 cup sweet vermouth
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
In large sauté pan with lid, over high heat, bring olive oil to almost smoking point, add grape tomatoes and lightly blister skin.
Add clams, chorizo, carrot, celery and onion, sauté for one minute.
Add garlic, thyme, sauté for another minute.
Leave all ingredients and deglaze pan with sweet vermouth.
Add chicken stock and bring to simmer, cover and reduce until clams are open, about 7 – 9 minutes.
Once clams have opened, finish with butter, season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve in bowl and garnish with crostini.
Note: Bruonoise means to cut into a small 1/8″ x 1/8″ x 1/8″ square aka dice cut
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