The other day I was out with a beautiful young lady who preceded to ask me a question to which I could not answer. She turned to me and said “what is the greatest dish that you had ever had.” I would like to think my silence was partially because I was distracted by her but in all honesty I did not know. Then it hit me. While I was in Naples I came across the most simple, delicious yet elegant dish I had ever had.
When I got back to the states I had tried to duplicate it to the best of my ability, yet I always fell a bit short. The dish was always great but it wasnt Naples great. After tampering with the ingredients a bit, I think ive got it!
Without further ado I give to you:
Cozze e’ Vongole alla Napoletana (Neapolitan-style shellfish)
Cook time: ~ 1 hour
- 5 1/2 lb mixed clams and mussels
- 1 cup corn meal
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 Bermuda onions (finely chopped)
- 1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
- 1 leek (cut into rings)
- 1 lb of tomatoes (coarsely chopped)
- 4 cups dry white wine
- ~ 3 tbsp chopped parsley
- salt and pepper
The first step is a little trick that I learned. Instead of rinsing your shellfish place them in a pot of cold water that has a cup of corn meal in it for about 30-45 minutes. The cornmeal will slightly be absorbed into the shellfish helping expel all the sand that is inside.
While they are draining start de-bearding your mussels. The “beard” is the course like thread that mussels use to attach themselves to rocks and piers. You may use your fingers or a knife to help grasp the beard and pull it quickly toward the hinge of the shell. The beard rips out of the mussel and should be discarded.
Next, scrub the surface of your shellfish to remove any sand and corn meal residue.
Over medium-hi heat, heat the olive oil in a large pot and begin to saute’ the garlic, onions and leeks. When the onions have become translucent begin to stir int he tomatoes and season with salt and pepper and cook briefly. (about 4 minutes)
Next, add the shellfish , cover the pot and cook for another 4 minutes. Be sure to shake the pot several times while they are cooking.
pour in the wine, blend in the parsley and then cover the pot cooking for another 10 minutes on medium heat. When finished be sure to discard any of the mussels or clams that did not open and serve in a bowl with the broth you have created.
All I have left to say is make sure that there is bread for dipping
and as always,
Buon Appetito America!