For the last week or so I have been thinking about New England clam chowder. I could not get my mind off of it, but then as I was flipping channels late one night, I came across a cooking show that had featured a place called The Clam Shack. This place had people lined up for his food, and one that everyone was ordering was the fried clams. Right then and there, I thought to my myself, I could come up with my take on a clam chowder but tuck it into a sandwich! Genius, and genius it was.
Now keep in mind I use the term po-boy for this recipe, and I will use it lightly. I say that only to the fact that this po-boy is not “dressed”, meaning, it is not slathered with mayonnaise and topped with tomatoes and thinly sliced lettuce.
As my wife was gone this past week, this was an opportunity for me to get my food on. As my kids were begging for me to make calamari, this was prime time to bring my clam chowder style sandwich into the spotlight, and wow, am I glad that I did.
Let’s get started.
(Makes One Sandwich)
Ingredients: [Print this Recipe]
- 1 1/2 lbs of clam strips, rinsed cleaned
- 1 cup of masa harina
- 1 cup of all purpose flour
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 cup of buttermilk
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 russet potato, skin on, cut into bite size cubes
- 1/2 onion, cut paper thin (mandoline works well)
- Tabasco Hot Sauce
- 1/2 loaf day old Jimmy John’s bread, or good submarine roll
- Bechamel Sauce (see below)
- 4 cups of canola oil
- More salt to taste
Ingredients for Bechamel Sauce:
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 cup of whole milk
- pinch of salt
- pinch of black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
To make the bechamel sauce, add the butter to a sauce pan and let it melt on medium heat. Once it starts to bubble, add in the flour, and begin to stir, incorporating the butter into the flour. It will form somewhat of a paste, but don’t worry. Your goal is to let the flour cook, stirring along the way, for about 3 minutes. Slowly add in the milk, and begin whisking, on medium heat, for about 5 minutes. Whisk the entire time. The flour will begin to thicken and make a nice cream sauce. Add in the salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Give a good stir, then remove from the heat.
To a medium pot, add in the canola oil, and bring it to a medium heat. Your goal is to get the oil to about 375 degrees.
To another pot add the cubed potatoes, and fill with just enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook for about 8-10 minutes or until they are fork tender. Drain, and return the potatoes back to the pot.
During this time, prepare all of the ingredients as cooking the clams goes very fast, so you will want to be ready , keeping in mind that you will cook all of the clams in a few batches.
Let me pause here to give a good warning here. The goal is to make the sandwich. This is the ultimate goal. HOWEVER, when you remove the fried clams from the oil, and season with a bit of salt, YOU WILL TRY A FEW. Again, the goal is to make the sandwich. I will admit, that when I seasoned the first batch of clams and let them drain a bit on paper, and had that first bite, I was in heaven, and I began eating them like popcorn! So, if you can, stay focused!
To a bowl, add the buttermilk along with the egg, and give it a good mix.
To another bowl add the masa harina, flour, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper, giving that a good mix.
Add a handful of the clams to the buttermilk mixture, and while using your hands, make sure there are no clumps. Get the buttermilk spread evenly on the clams. Let them sit in there for a couple of minutes.
When your oil is ready, with a slotted spoon, remove the clams, letting the buttermilk drain back into the buttermilk bowl, then add them to the flour mixture. Using one of your hands, begin tossing the clam strips all around, making sure they do not clump up, and that all of the flour mixture is evenly distributed onto the clams. If you can, separate them, shaking off access flour, and place them on a tray or plate.
Add them to the hot oil, and begin frying. These will go extremely fast, about 1-2 minutes. Once golden brown, remove them with a large slotted spoon, or spider if you have one, letting the oil drain back into the pot, and add them to a wire strainer lined with paper. Season with salt.
Repeat until all of the clams are cooked.
Now let’s build that sandwich! You still have clams left right?
Slice your bread, lengthwise, but not all of the way through.
To the bottom, add the cubed potatoes. Drizzle with the Tabasco sauce, all along the potatoes. Top the potatoes with a good layer of the sliced onions. Top the onions with a heaping mound of the fried clams, then drizzle the top of the clams with the bechamel sauce.
PLEASE NOTE: If the bechamel sauce cooled up on you, simply bring it back to the stove on medium heat, add a bit more milk, water, or stock, and continue whisking until it is warmed through and easy to drizzle all over the clams.
Pinch both sides of the sandwich, open wide, and dig in. Not only is this sandwich super fun to eat, but it is everything you could think about when eating a clam chowder, but in sandwich form! You get the creamy potatoes on the base, the subtle hint of onion because they are paper thin, and the crunchy and awesome flavor from the clams. Not only that but you get the wonderful creamy bechamel sauce to boot!