Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Chef Eduardo García’s Littleneck Clams and Potatoes in Chipotle Broth

YOUR MIGHT SAY Eduardo García is a little obsessive about his ingredients. To get the best seafood, for example, the chef and owner of Mexico City’s Maximo Bistrot employs a full-time fisherman and overnights shellfish from the Baja Peninsula. “Most important,” he said, “are high-quality ingredients. Everything we get in, we use that day.”

In his debut Slow Food Fast contribution, Mr. García shares a recipe for a clam and potato stew in a cilantro-infused chipotle broth. This is a recipe, the chef explained, that pays homage to Ensenada, the city in Baja where he gets his clams. “I am very passionate about the Baja peninsula. Most of the shellfish there is wild, and what isn’t wild small farms do an extremely good job of growing.”
Despite its complexity and depth, this broth—made with smoky chipotles in adobo sauce, garlic, tomatoes and lots of fresh cilantro—comes together in a jiffy. “The idea,” Mr. García explained, “comes from a popular soup called Caldo Tlalpeno. Basically it is chicken broth with lots of chipotles and cilantro. I simplified it and took out the chicken because clams take just a few minutes to cook.” Once the potatoes are tender, add the clams, and let them steam open and release their briny juices into the pot. “It tastes of the ocean,” Mr. García said
“When you are done with this, you want more,” he said of this summertime stew. As you slurp up a second helping, though, Mr. García hopes you’ll think of Ensenada. “I want to promote the area, to help the economy and the people who grow these ingredients.” If they weren’t feeding the chef’s obsession, after all, Maximo Bistrot wouldn’t be the farm-to-table sensation it is.
–Kitty Greenwald
Total Time: 35 minutes Serves: 4
2 cups water
1 pound Roma tomatoes, stemmed and halved
2 tablespoons canned chipotle chilies in adobo
1 garlic clove, sliced
2 tablespoons diced sweet onions, such as Vidalia
Sea salt
Leaves from 1 bunch fresh cilantro, 2 tablespoons roughly chopped
1 pound fingerling or red bliss potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 lime, quartered
1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallion
1. Prepare broth: In a lidded medium pot over medium heat, simmer water, tomatoes, chipotle in adobo, garlic, onions and a pinch of salt, covered, until tomatoes soften, 7-10 minutes. Turn off heat. Add cilantro, cover and let rest 3 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth, about 1 minute.
2. Pour broth back into pot. Add potatoes, cover and simmer on medium-high heat until just fork-tender, 7-10 minutes. Add clams and cover pot again. Steam until shells open, about 7 minutes. Discard any clams that do not open. Remove from heat and season with salt to taste.
3. To serve, divide stew among four soup bowls. Garnish with chopped cilantro, lime segments and sliced scallion.

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