Seafood in Georgia?
I was on vacation over the fourth of July. I was looking forward to getting away from the LA heat for a few days, but it seemed to follow me all the way to Georgia. It was a boiler there as well. The visit was still good, and as always when visiting family I ate and drank way too much. It was interesting to leave New Orleans, where seafood is on everyone’s menu and indulge in a clam bake in Stone Mountain, GA. I even got to help prepare the ingredients and surprisingly it turned out superb. It was my first clam bake since I was a kid growing up in Pennsylvania. I love seafood, but everywhere I‘ve lived the seafood has been so expensive to eat until I came to New Orleans. I eat more seafood now then I have ever done before.
I was just famished after taking a 12 hour bus ride from NOLA to visit a relative in Stone Mountain, Ga. The last time I took a Greyhound bus anywhere was almost thirty years ago. I was 19 years old and it was my first trip outside my home state. Anyway, I arrived around 8:30pm in Georgia and didn’t get home until almost 10pm. A bowl of delicious clam chowder with some good red wine made my first night back perfect. Here’s the recipe for the amazing clam chowder I ate the first night I arrived home and the Clam bake recipe I helped prepare and then devoured with a family member and her cool friends on the fourth of July. Enjoy!
A note from my favorite Chef: I’ve enclosed the recipe for the New England-style Clam Chowder, but the recipe for the Clam Bake I had to wing. Like the Clams Casino, your grandmother never wrote the recipe down, but she taught me how to make both of them at the Franklin Seafood House in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
New England-style Clam Chowder
1 Can (51-ounces) Chopped Sea Clams
1 1/2-inch cube salt pork, diced small
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons flour
3 medium potatoes, peeled & diced
3 cups milk
3 tablespoons butter
Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper
Directions for the Clam Chowder:
Drain clams and reserve 2 1/2 cups clam juice.
Cook salt pork slowly in a small skillet until the fat has been rendered (melted) and the scraps are brown. Strain and put 2 tablespoons of the fat in a large pot. Heat fat, add onion and cook slowly until golden. Sprinkle the flour over the onion and cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes.
Add potatoes and clam juice/water. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add clams and simmer 10 more minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add milk, butter and salt & pepper to taste.
Heat until butter is melted. It makes 9 cups or 12 (6-ounce) servings.
(1) If there isn’t 2 1/2 cups of clam juice, add water to make up difference.
(2) I use Sea Watch Chopped Sea Clams.
(3) I use Half & Half instead of milk for a creamier chowder.
(4) You can add one can of whole baby clams for added flavor and texture.
(5) Never heat the chowder to boiling or the milk will curdle.
Franklin Seafood House Clam Bakes
This recipe is only a general guide. I’ve also added mussels to the bake in the past. Some people (not me) add a whole small octopus. All you have to do is keep in mind that the cheesecloth you’re going to use to wrap the clam bakes in before you add them to the steam pot only holds so much.
8 medium small red potatoes, scrubbed.
1 pound littleneck clams in shell, scrubbed.
1 pound unpeeled large raw shrimp.
4 Corn-on-the-Cob, husked and cut into two or three pieces.
4 Fish fillets (your choice) wrapped in parchment paper.
1 Lobster tail medium size
In the bottom of a clam & lobster steamer pot, stockpot, steam pot or a large double boiler (size of pot depends on number of bakes) pour water, seafood stock or clam juice. Lay the cheesecloth-wrapped bakes in the top. Cover with lid and bring the liquid to a boil, then simmer over medium-low heat until everything is tender, the clams are open and the shrimp is pink. Serve with crusty French bread slathered with butter and frosted mugs of beer.
It really was a great visit and the food was to die for, but that’s always been my experience when sharing a holiday with family and friends. The food and drink always tastes better when shared. The rest of the month was pretty much like last month except for having to update my fall intern descriptions on-line. At the end of July, I had to say goodbye to most of my legal interns we had volunteering over the last six to eight weeks. They really helped the Alliance for Affordable Energy by updating and organizing electronic energy policy docket files. It really was a pleasure to get to know these people, who have another year or so to go before taking the Bar exam and becoming lawyers. I wish them all a successful year.
July came and went far too fast for me to really delve deep into what I’ve learned this month as an AmeriCorps/Vista volunteer. Between reconnecting with family after almost two years apart, dealing with roommate issues, shipping my mountain bike from Georgia to New Orleans, and trying to balance work and play while striving to live a healthier life then I have in the past. I continue to stumble here and there with myself and with others, but I do value the experience that July has given me and I look forward to August, and of course, eating more seafood.