Two surgeries within several weeks of one another in one household. It's almost like we are getting old or something. (I can't hear your indications of the affirmative, so save them.) The aftermath—a month-long two-person relay of bed-riddenness and prescription narcotics—produced a house that was essentially a garbage heap devoid of all food that wasn't nukeable. One can only subsist on Trader Jose's frozen burritos for so long, so something had to give.
As true red-blooded Americans who solve problems primarily via ignoring them, there was only one clear way to address this such a situation: take a vacation.
Or, in our case, take the next best thing to a vacation: use Kim's parents' house as a makeshift vacation home while they are out of town. It's a worthy substitute for hopping a plane to an expensive resort: luxurious pool (they have barstools built in to the pool!), well-stocked bar (especially if you like scotch, which I do not), lots of junk food in the freezer that is otherwise intended for the grandkids (sure, I'd never buy dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets, but I'll be damned if I won't eat them!).
The upshot of all this is that if you're having a one night fake beach vacation, you need to have meal worthy of the real thing. Something with the essence of the sea, but not so rich that it slows you down from your busy day of lounging and making, yes, another cocktail. Something like local Carlsbad mussels! Which were the clear intent of this whole exercise, but were nowhere to be found come gameday.
Turns out, in spite of my best efforts to find the little gems at a number of fancy, yuppie markets in the greater San Diego county area, they are only available at various farmers' markets. And the Sunday market hours had already passed.
Enter little neck clams. The ubiquitous natural foods store had these guys fresh, so they'd suffice.
When preparing shellfish like this, it’s tempting to go rich: ingredients like chorizo or linguica, a hunk of butter, etc. And I can’t disparage the impulse, especially if you’re pairing with fries to soak up that goodness. But as I said before, my aim on this day was to be a light refreshing, kiss from the sea. Though I can't deny it—I threw in a couple small pieces of bacon which added just a hint of smoke and richness.
And in keeping with the spirit of the title, I opted for good ol’ fashioned shitty American macrobrew. Vacation in a gla...er…can.
Beer steamed clams
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1/2 cup of chopped onion
- 2-3 strips of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 2-3 lbs. littleneck clams
- 1/2 cup minced tomato
- 1 can of crappy American macrobrew
- coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- herb bouquet containing parsley, basil, rosemary, or other herbs of your choice
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley and basil
- sliced baguette for serving
- In a large sauté pan, cook bacon over high heat. When fat is thoroughly rendered, remove bacon with slotted spoon and poor off fat, reserving about a tablespoon.
- Lower heat to medium-high and sauté garlic and onion until translucent.
- Add tomatoes, and cook 2-3 minutes longer.
- Add clams, bacon, and herb bouquet, and pour in beer. Cover pan and allow to steam for approximately 5 minutes, or until clams open.
- Transfer to bowl, garnish with chopped herbs, and serve with sliced bread, toasted if desired.