Beer Steamed Clams with Chorizo and Shaved Fennel Herb Salad
Life has been traveling a million miles an hour lately, and I feel like I’ve barely had the opportunity to share just a portion of it with you!
Crazy as it sounds, the week leading up to our wedding was even more eventful than I initially expected! A few weeks prior, I was invited to attend and promote a Negra Modelo dinner in Washington, DC at one of my favorite spots in the city, Union Market. I hesitated for about two seconds before deciding that I couldn’t miss out on the opportunity regardless of the timing (wedding, sshhmedding, right?).
If that wasn’t reason enough, it also gave me an excuse to try some amazing food and learn some new cooking tricks from two amazingly talented chefs: Chef Rick Bayless and Chef Chris Cosentino. I’m not sure if I’ve ever shared this with you all before, but I’m a beer girl. Through and through! I’ll skip fancy cocktails any day of the week in lieu of a cold one.
But I’m the first to admit that as much as I love beer, I do not cook with it nearly enough. Negra Modelo just happens to be my favorite Mexican lager though.
Its signature reddish color is the product of caramelized and toasted malts, giving the beer its slightly sweet, extra smooth and balanced flavor. It also happens to be the perfect complement to so many different foods as Chef Bayless and Chef Cosentino demonstrated that evening. I was excited to see what tricks these chefs had up their sleeves!
As you guys already know, I’m a huge (I repeat: huge!!!) fan of Rick Bayless, so it felt pretty darn special to sit about five feet away and watch him cook for us that evening alongside Chef Cosentino. I may or may not have gone up to him at the end of the evening, and told him that I was moving to Chicago (and was obsessed with XOCO). Here’s hoping we become best friends. I’m sure stranger things have happened.
The entire evening was lots of fun, the venue was beautifully decorated (note to self: use beer bottles as flower vases), and the cooking demonstrations were very informative and entertaining.
Although we had the chance to try several dishes throughout the night that had been prepared with Negra Modelo (including some very delicious beer braised pork tacos with chipotle aioli and guacamole) the highlights of the evening for Connor and I were the dishes prepared by Chef Bayless and Chef Cosentino on stage.
Rick Bayless prepared an amazingly hearty and flavorful pork chili with dry-roasted ancho chile peppers and thickened with masa harina. Bayless toasted the chiles in a dry pan (an essential step for maximum flavor!), and braised the meat with a combination of Negra Modelo and fire-roasted tomatoes.
One word: YUM.
Chef Bayless also noted that he prefers cooking and braising with Negra Modelo, because its malty undertones complement dried chiles extremely well and unlike more hoppy beers, it does not become bitter during the cooking process–something I’ve definitely struggled with in the past!
Chef Chris Cosentino prepared an amazing Portuguese-inspired Negra Modelo steamed clam and pork chorizo dish. The combination of the spicy chorizo sausage, briny clams, and bright, citrusy fennel-herb salad topping was perfection.
He gave us tips for cleaning clams (put them in a large bucket or bowl with ice, water and salt and shake extremely well to remove any sand/dirt), and told us that the original Rhode Island clam chowders was made with beer! I had no idea and it was all very fascinating.
Even though it was a very difficult decision to make, I decided to share a lightly adapted version of Chris Cosentino’s dish for you all today! It is a perfect appetizer or main course, especially during the summer, because it can be prepared in less than 30 minutes and is quite impressive, despite being simple and straight-forward to prepare.
In addition to chorizo, the dish also contains canned chickpeas! I never would have thought to add these to a clam dish until now, but I loved the additional texture and heartiness they provided.
The simple fennel-herb salad, a combination of shaved fennel, fresh mint (this is a game-changer!), fennel fronds, chives, cilantro (my own substitution for parsley, however you could choose either!) and tossed with lemon juice and a little drizzle of olive oil, helped balance the entire dish out and gave it so much dimension and flavor.
You guys have to try this recipe! You will love it. I want to thank Negra Modelo again for such a fantastic evening! It was the perfect way to kick off such a special week in my life.
Negra Modelo Steamed Clams with Chorizo:
- 4 lbs clams (Manila or Littleneck), cleaned and rinsed
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 8 oz spicy pork chorizo sausage, casings removed
- 1 red onion, thinly julienned
- 6 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 (15 ounce can) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 bottle Negra Modelo
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 lemon for juice and zest
- kosher salt
Shaved Fennel-Herb Salad:
- 1 large head of fennel, cored removed and very thinly sliced
- 1⁄4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1⁄4 cup fresh mint leaves, torn
- 1⁄4 cup chives, finely minced
- fennel fronds, for garnishing
- 1 to 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- lemon wedges
- grilled bread (optional)
- Wash the clams well with in a large bowl of ice water (with some salt), shaking them vigorously to remove any excess sand.
- In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the julienned red onions, and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring continously, until slightly softened. Add the garlic and saute for an addition 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add the spicy chorizo (casings removed) in chunks, and saute over high heat until caramelized and just cooked through. Add the cleaned (and drained) clams and canned chickpeas, then add the Negra Modelo. Cover the pot, increase heat to high, and allow the clams to cook until they just begin to open. You may want to stir the pot once or twice to ensure the clams cook evenly.
- Add the chicken stock to the pot, and allow mixture to simmer for a few minutes. Remove the cover, add half of the lemon zest to the pot and the juice of one lemon. Stir and then season the broth to taste with salt.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the thinly shaved fennel with the cilantro leaves, fresh mint, chives, and fennel fronds with the remaining lemon zest. Drizzle with olive oil and squeeze a bit of lemon juice on top. Toss until the greens are evenly and lightly dressed.
- Divide the clams and broth evenly between 6 bowls. Top each bowl with a handful of the shaved fennel-herb salad. Serve immediately (with grilled bread or crusty bread, if using), and a few additional torn mint leaves.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 790Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 236mgSodium: 4468mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 3gSugar: 8gProtein: 90g