Steamed Clams with Spicy Italian Sausage and Fennel

At culinary school there is a huge kitchen that we all work in and last semester there were three classes…Culinary I, Culinary III and Baking & Pastry I.  Our first few weeks of class were nerve racking for myself and my fellow CI students.  The kitchen was so large and intimidating with its industrial sized stove, ovens and utensils everywhere.  I had never been in a walk in before and I couldn’t have told you where anything was!  Basically I was a little lost but tried to keep my cool and not show any signs of weakness.  The kitchen is not for wimps people!  Looking at the C3 students, who had obviously been there a while and felt at ease even on the first week, was a little intimidating.  Some already had that “chef’s ego” and couldn’t bother to help the little people, but there were a few who showed me the ropes and eventually shared some of their delicious recipes with me.

Because we were in separate classes we were always preparing different recipes, so on this particular day while I was learning knife skills C3 was learning how to cook shellfish.  I wasn’t really that interested at first because they were making clams and besides clam chowder I really hadn’t had them too often.  As I was chopping away at my pound of carrots this sweet spicy smell hit me and I turned to see what they were cooking.  Whatever it was I was determined to taste it.  So after they presented their dish to the head chef I asked to try it and when I did it was one of those moments where you close your eyes and ask where have you been all my life!  I’ve tasted some good food but this went way beyond that so this is my attempt at recreating that experience.  The best part is using a crostini to soak up the juices at the end.

 

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 2×1/3-inch strips
  • 1 large fennel bulb with fronds, bulb cored, sliced; fronds chopped (for garnish)
  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausages, casings removed, sausages coarsely crumbled
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed in mortar with pestle (or chopped finely)
  • 1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
  • 4 dozens Manila clams (about 2 1/3 pounds), scrubbed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

Directions

Heat oil in large deep skillet over high heat. Add bell pepper, sliced fennel, Italian sausage, and fennel seeds, and sauté until sausage is brown and vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes. Add clam juice, and bring to boil. Add clams and oregano; reduce heat to medium-high, cover, and cook just until clams open, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with pepper. Divide among 4 bowls, discarding any unopened clams. Sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds and serve with toasted bread.

 

 

Source: www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Steamed-Clams-with-Spicy-Italian-Sausage-and-Fennel-240132#ixzz1wvtjrE1j

 

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