Kim's sister Loan (pronounced Lahn) came down from Coos Bay, Oregon where she lives, with a mission to get us together and make pizzas, cook some good food, and hang out with friends. Knowing we all love seafood, she and Randy did a little digging (maybe a lot of digging) and personally dug up what seemed like a ton of Coos Bay Empire Clams! I knew what we were going to do with those; I love Peter's take on White Clam Pizza from his book American Pie. His recipe is a tribute to the one served at Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven, CT. I've made it numerous times and it always comes out great.
Having all of these fresh clams, we not only made a pizza, but Loan also whipped up a terrific pasta dish as well. It was clam-tastic (I know that's cheesy, but this is a blog and it's true).
As with all recipes, once you make them enough you start to leave the reservation a little. Peter's herb oil is a perfect example. I use it so often, I just add herbs that I have until it looks right and tastes right. For this pizza I spiced up the oil with some chili flakes.
Coos Bay Clam Pizza
- Peter's Signature Bruery Beer Dough *Made with Sriracha Salt as a substitute *Link here
- Peter's Herb Oil with a little extra red pepper flakes *Link here
- A big pile of Coos Bay Empire Clams -- if you can get them *See Note below for options
- Teaspoon of Fresh squeezed Lemon Juice
- Grated Mozzarella Cheese
- Grated Parmigiano-Regianno
- Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley
*Note: From "American Pie" about selecting clams for this pizza...
"When making this pizza, look for freshly shucked medium-sized whole clams, such as manila, cherrystone, or littlenecks. You can shuck them yourself or steam them open. An easier method, however, is to use either canned whole baby clams or another canned product called cocktail clams… (With these canned products, just drain the clams well…) I do not suggest using chopped clams, even fresh ones, unless that is all you can find, as they tend to toughen during the bake."
We ended up using these larger clams for this recipe, which had to be chopped. They were hand picked, shucked, and frozen by Loan and her family and brought down to us for this feast. I did notice that some of the meat was tough, as Peter mentioned, but how do you not use the hand dug clams that came packed with passion and love? I continue to reap the benefits of Loan's generosity as she brings, and even ships down, fresh seafood that they caught up there. One day, we'll make the trip to visit them and join in on a crabbing trip, or clam dig on the beautiful beaches there and I'll post the photos.
I have also used the canned baby clams for this pizza and it always comes out perfect.
Make up the herb oil *See Link above for recipe. Add the fresh squeezed lemon juice.
I also added a little extra chili flakes to spice this one up.
Add the clams to the herb oil and let sit in the fridge for at least an hour.
The Coos Bay Clam Pizza
Pre-heat your oven to the highest temperature (about 550 degrees) for at least 45 minutes to an hour prior to baking your pizzas to make sure your pizza stone comes up to temperature.
Spread your dough out on the pizza peel and add a little grated Mozzarella and Parmessan Cheeses. Don't add too much cheese on this pizza. You want it to be a background element. This pizza is about the clams and the herbs. The cheese holds it together.
Add the Clams. As you do, it will bring enough of the herb oil along with them. There is no need for more oil on this.
That's it. Now it goes into the oven.
Right when it comes out of the oven hit it with some more fresh squeezed lemon and top with the chopped parsley. Because we were using these large clams that were caught, shucked and frozen, they put off a lot of liquid after the bake. I simply tipped the pizza and drained off that excess liquid. *When you used the canned baby clams, you don't have this problem.
Cut and Serve...
This turned out great. It's terrific when you get the opportunity to cook with food that you know comes fresh from the source. The only other ingredient needed for an amazing food experience is, of course, the good friends who we were lucky enough to be with.
*Peter suggests in "American Pie" that you can also make variations of this with other fresh/raw seafood such as squid, shrimp, or scallops. Sounds like a plan!