new england clam chowda pizza- not your everyday ‘za!
Most people grill burgers, make a pot of chili or order up piles of chicken wings for their Super Bowl Party. Not us. Our annual Super Bowl celebrations pay tribute to the regions of the country where the two competing teams are from. If it’s Baltimore — crab cakes. Philadelphia — cheese steaks. Get it? There are some teams I root for year after year, because their hometowns are such food meccas. Others, well, not so much.
When the playoffs begin, we bracket the teams and their regional specialties. As we get closer to the final two, the menu begins to take shape. Now, we’ve got nothing against Indianapolis or Green Bay — but let’s just say, we’re very happy with Sunday’s roster! New England vs. Seattle!
You think New England — you think clam
chowder chow-da, right? So, I was happily going down the soup path when Scott called an audible. (That’s football-speak for changing the play). He wanted pizza. Hmmm. That could be interesting.
That’s how we arrived at this homage to the Patriots. It has all the elements of a regular chowder, even the creamy bisque, reconstructed as pizza toppings. You might think, “potatoes on pizza???” It works! “Clams?” You bet! “Bacon?” Well, duh.
We made a test batch last Friday night and we discovered a few things. First, the celery leaves as a garnish are absolutely essential. They are bright and fresh — the ideal herbal note.
And something not so expected… hot sauce. I know, I know. It sounds more like buffalo pizza — but seriously — we added a few dashes and WOW! Phenomenal! So you can go traditional on this pie — and it will be good or you can add a few shakes of hot sauce for a spicy, tangy flavor-bomb! I think you know how I’m leaning.
Paper-thin slices of potato, onion and brussel sprouts are also key so that they cook in the same time as the pizza – which only takes 7-8 minutes in a 500 degree oven. I used a mandoline and it made very quick work of the process, but if you don’t have one, sharpen your knife and get slicing.
Let’s talk about the clams — I used fresh middle necks found at my fishmonger (shout out to Pop’s) though little necks would work well too. They steamed with some aromatics and the shells popped right open. I may have snuck one or two from the pan for quality control purposes.
Depending on how large your clams are, you can chop them, or not. We made four 10-inch pizzas and initially, I chopped the clams, but toward the end we were putting whole clams on the pie and devouring the delicious results.
Incidentally, this goes equally well with a Sam Adams or other lager (Scott’s preference) as it does with a glass of chilled sauvignon blanc – (my weakness). And if you’re interested in what we did last year, check it out!
new england clam chowda pizza
for seafood béchamel
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 heaping tablespoon flour
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2-3 grinds black pepper
- 3/4 cup seafood stock or clam juice
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon vermouth
- 1 tablespoon chopped celery leaves
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 6 cups water divided
- 2 dozen middleneck clams
- 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/2 red onion sliced
- 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 1 pound store-bought pizza dough I used the dough found chilled in the bakery department
- 3 small red skinned potatoes very thinly sliced
- 5 brussel sprouts very thinly sliced
- 1/2 red onion very thinly sliced crosswise
- 1/4 pound crispy cooked bacon chopped
- seafood béchamel recipe above
- 4 teaspoons olive oil divided
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme divided
- flour for rolling out dough
- corn meal for the pizza stone
- celery leaves
- hot sauce optional
- pizza stone
Make the béchamel
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Sprinkle in the flour, salt and pepper stirring constantly until smooth and bubbly, about a minute. Gradually add the stock, stirring constantly until thick and smooth. Stir in the whipping cream and remove from heat. Add the vermouth and celery leaves and stir until combined. Set aside. (Can be made a day ahead).
Place the pizza stone in the oven. Turn the oven on to 500 degrees.
For the clams
Soak the clams in 5 cups cool water with kosher salt. (Note: do not use iodized salt as it will kill the clams). Let soak for 10 minutes. Scrub the clams clean of any dirt or grit and set aside.
Layer the sliced onion, thyme and garlic in a medium skillet. Add remaining cup of water and cover. Heat to boiling. Add the clams to the pan and cover tightly. Steam the clams for 3-4 minutes until they begin to open up. Remove the clams from their shells. Chop clams if they are on the large side. Transfer clams to a bowl.
To assemble the pizza
Prep all of the toppings before you start to roll out the dough and place them by the stove. Clear the cooktop area on your stove.
Dust a work surface with flour. Divide the dough into fourths. Place 1/4 of the dough on the flour and sprinkle the top with a little extra to prevent it from sticking. Work the dough with your fingers to flatten it out. If you know how to twirl pizza dough, knock yourself out! If you don't (I don't) use a rolling pin to flatten the dough to about 1/4" thick.
With oven mitts, carefully transfer the pizza stone to the cooktop. Be careful - it's hot!
Sprinkle cornmeal on the pizza stone.
Lift the edges of the pizza dough and transfer the dough to the pizza stone. Working quickly, sprinkle a 1 teaspoon olive oil over the dough.
Top the pizza with 1/4 each of potato slices, brussel sprouts, béchamel, onion, thyme, bacon and chopped clams. Don't overdress the pizza-- or it will be goopy.
Return the pizza stone to the oven and cook for 7-8 minutes until crust is browned and crisp and toppings are bubbling. Use a pizza peel or stainless steel spatula to transfer the pizza to a cutting board. Let cool for 1-2 minutes before slicing. Serve. Repeat the process for the remaining pizzas.