I am super excited about this particular post. Another blog I follow called The Bitten Word, had a reader challenge that I loved participating in. Basically, The Bitten Word bloggers asked readers to participate in their annual Cover to Cover challenge. They choose one food magazine (this year, the September issue of Bon Appetit) and assigned readers every recipe in the magazine! There were 500 participants! My assignment…Clam and Bacon Pizza!
This was completely out of my comfort zone. The recipe had more steps than I would normally attempt and fish and pizza make me nervous. Cheese and fish? Not sure. But, that’s the fun of a challenge, right? This definitely took me out of my comfort zone, a must in the kitchen, I believe.
Here’s the rundown:
The recipe from Bon Appetit is below, but I have LOTS of comments on the recipe! See them in italics.
- 2 heads of garlic, separated into cloves, peeled
- 24 littleneck clams, scrubbed
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil plus more
- 8 oz. thick-cut bacon, sliced crosswise ¼” thick
- 1 lb. prepared pizza dough, room temperature
- 1 oz. Pecorino, finely grated (about ½ cup)
- Fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves and crushed red pepper flakes (for serving)
Before you do anything, soak the clams in a large bowl with cold water and healthy handful of cornmeal for 30 – 45 minutes. To me, this was a huge oversight in the recipe. The cornmeal cleans the clams of their sand.
Bring garlic and 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Drain. Repeat process twice more. On final turn, do not drain; reduce heat and simmer until garlic is tender, 20–30 minutes. Drain; reserve garlic.
This step fascinated me! After doing research online as to why you would dump the water twice I came up with nothing. There has to be harshness of the garlic that comes out into the water during the first 2 boilings. The garlic tested mellow, as if it were roasted, so it definitely has to do with flavor. I would have liked the recipe to explain a little more as to the science behind boiling, but nonetheless, a great tip to use now!
Cook clams and ¼ cup water in a large pot over medium-high heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until clams open, about 5 minutes (discard any clams that do not open); transfer to a large bowl. Strain clam cooking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Remove clams from shells and coarsely chop. Place in a medium bowl, cover, and chill.
You’ll notice in the next step it calls for 1/2 cup of cooking liquid even though you start with only 1/4 cup of water. The clams release a lot of liquid, so you will have plenty for the 1/2 cup needed.
Fully cooked and ready to be shelled and chopped!
Purée reserved garlic, ½ cup clam cooking liquid, and 2 Tbsp. oil in a blender, adding more cooking liquid by the tablespoonful, until smooth and creamy.
Flavor, flavor, flavor! The sauce was more than I ever expected. I thought it was going to be overwhelmingly fishy and garlicky. It was none of that. All the flavors mixed together perfectly. I also loved that you got this really creamy sauce without using an ounce of cream or milk. Cream sauces are not my favorite, but are usually used in recipes like these.
Preheat oven to 500°. Cook bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat until fat renders and bacon is slightly crisp, about 5 minutes; transfer to a paper towel–lined plate.
Cut pizza dough in half. Working with 1 piece at a time and keeping other piece covered with a damp towel or plastic wrap, gently stretch dough into 12”–14” rounds and transfer to lightly oiled baking sheets.
This was another step that I didn’t fully understand until I did it. By cutting the dough in half, it made fantastically wonderful thin crust. Contrary to my initial reaction of, “This will never be enough dough to make a 12″-14″ pizza” it was perfect. But, you will notice from the first picture, it is not the size of the pan, which is okay!
We bought the pizza dough at our local pizzeria, which I would highly suggest. You need real good quality dough in order to get it thin enough. Bonus: You get two pizzas instead of one. We had lunch the next day!
- Spread dough with garlic purée and top with Pecorino, clams, and bacon.
What I learned most from this recipe is this was the type of recipe where it was imperative to follow step by step (not one of my strong suits). The final product was fantastic. It was really different and something that you would find in a restaurant instead of your home kitchen. Challenge yourself…give it a try!
Find out what other Bitten Word followers said about their experience making this pizza at http://www.thebittenword.com/thebittenword/clam-and-bacon-pizza.html
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