Shellfish for the Crowd: Mitch Tonks’ Recipes for Mussel Chowder and ‘Claminara’ No-Bake Pizza | Food
WInter is seafood season in the British Isles, so it never ceases to be my amazement that we don’t make more noise with this brilliant native product during Christmas time. It’s also incredibly easy and quick to cook, making it a great choice to feed a crowd, whether in the form of traditional marinière mussels. (crusty bread required), toasted scallops (ideally garnished with garlic butter, parsley, a dash of white wine or vermouth, and a few breadcrumbs; you’ll thank me later) or a simple chowder; Even the no-bake clam pizzas below are much less labor-intensive than you might ever imagine. So let’s go.
Mussel chowder (photo above)
The joy of chowders isn’t just about their incredible flavor – plump seashells, salted bacon, rich, creamy broth: what’s not to love? – but in the fact that they’re so easy to scale, depending on how many people you have around. Keep a large pot of soup warm over very low heat, put a ladle in the middle of the pot, arrange a stack of bowls and some good crusty bread next to the stove, and let everyone help themselves. I especially like this with fried bread and a lot of parsley.
Preperation 15 minutes
to cook 45 minutes
1 kg of live mussels
1 glass (175 ml) white wine
1 small white onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
100g smoked bacon, finely chopped
75 ml of dry sherry
1 tablespoon of flour
300 ml of milk
300 ml double cream
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into approx.15 mm cubes
1 large handful of curly parsley, chopped, to finish
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Tabasco, to season and finish
Put a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the mussels and wine, cover and let stand for three or four minutes, shaking the saucepan occasionally, until they all open to steam ( discard those that do not). Remove from the heat, let cool, then remove the meat from the shells (which you can now discard) and reserve with the cooking juices.
Melt the butter in a second large saucepan over medium heat, then gently sauté the onion and garlic for about 10 minutes, until tender but not colored. Add bacon and sauté, stirring, until just starting to get crisp around the edges. Add the sherry, simmer until the alcohol boils, then add the flour and cook for a few more minutes, stirring. Slowly add the milk and cream, toss to combine, then add the potatoes and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, until tender. Add the picked mussels and their cooking juices, simmer for a few minutes to warm up, then stir in the parsley. Season with white pepper and Tabasco to taste, and add salt only if necessary.
No-bake pizza ‘claminara’
The idea for this dish was inspired by Pilgrims Pizza in London, which launched a brilliant home pizza kit during the lockdown that included a short YouTube video on how to make pizza in a frying pan. I thought it was genius, and even more so when I found out it worked. If you prefer a folded pizza, just fold it up before cooking and enjoy a “clamzone” instead.
Preperation 15 minutes
To prove 2h +
to cook 45 minutes
For the dough
500 g strong white bread flour
325g lukewarm water
7g dry yeast
1 tablespoon of olive oil
5g of salt
5g of sugar
For the sauce
1 kg of live clams
100 ml white wine
1 bay leaf
1 pepseroncino, or 1 dried red pepper
200 ml) milk
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 handful of curly parsley, chopped
1-2 tsp grated Parmesan
1×125-150g of mozzarella ball, roughly torn into small pieces
Put the flour, water, baking powder, olive oil, salt and sugar in a bowl and mix with your hands until everything comes together into a dough. Place on a lightly floured work surface and knead for about five minutes, until the dough is nice and elastic. Return to the bowl, cover and let stand for about an hour to an hour and a half, until doubled in size.
Once the dough has risen, turn it over on a floured work surface, divide it in four and pinch and shape each portion into a nice ball. Cover again with a tea towel and let rise for another 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Put a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the clams, wine, bay leaf, and chili, cover and steam for two or three minutes, until all the clams are open (discard any that are are not). Remove from the heat, let cool, then remove the meat from the shells (these can now be discarded) and set aside with the cooking juices.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then stir in the flour until the mixture thickens and forms a roux. Combine the clam juice and milk in a bowl or bowl, then pour into the roux and cook, stirring, for three to four minutes, until a thick white sauce forms. Grate the garlic, stir in the parsley and simmer an additional three to four minutes, until the sauce is smooth, creamy and fairly thick. Off the heat, add the clam meat.
On a lightly floured surface, by hand or with a rolling pin, shape each ball of dough into a disc large enough to fit your pan (you will need a heavy-bottomed, oven-safe pan). With your hands, lift a slightly raised ledge all around the edge. Meanwhile, put the ovenproof frying pan on high heat and, once it’s good and hot, drop a round of dough in it. Spread the clam sauce liberally on top and to the edge, but not around the edge, then sprinkle with Parmesan and sprinkle generously with mozzarella. Cook in the hot pan for four to five minutes, until the bottom is crisp and the edges start to rise. Meanwhile, heat the grill over high heat.
Transfer the pan to the hot grill and cook for two or three minutes, until the edges lift and puff and the cheese melts and browns. When your pizza looks full of appeal, take it out and serve. Repeat with the rest of the dough and sauce, until you are full or until you have all run out.