My guest for Episode 119 of my show is Jasper White, a long time friend from Boston. Although he and I have never worked together, we have many connections. One of his early chef partners was Lydia Shire, my first chef on my first job at the Harvest Restaurant in Boston. Jasper worked at many restaurants in the Boston area including the dining rooms of the Copley Plaza, The Parker House, and The Bostonian. His fine dining restaurant, Jasper’s, which featured elegant New England Fare, was located in the same spot on the waterfront where I had been the chef at a restaurant called “Cybele’s” in the early 80’s. After running this elegant place for many years, Jasper switched gears to open a more casual place, in effect a loud energetic clam shack, called Summer Shack, in Cambridge in May 2002. It was one of Julia Child’s favorite places to eat. (She had a huge crush on Jasper). The success of the Cambridge restaurant spawned two more “Summer Shacks,” one at the Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino in Connecticut and another in Boston’s Back Bay. Jasper is the author of many cookbooks, including Lobster at Home, Scribner 1998, Fifty Chowders, Scribner 2000 and The Summer Shack Cookbook, Norton 2007 which is where you’ll find the recipes we made on my show. Jasper has been a frequent guest on my shows throughout the years. It is always a pleasure to have him on. Here is his recipe for Cataplana.
Makes 4 servings
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Total preparation time: 30 minutes
8 whole allspice berries
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large or 4 small dried bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 small onion (3 to 4 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 small to medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
One 6-ounce piece chouriço, cut into 16 slices
One 14-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice, drained, juice reserved, and diced
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds small little neck clams (about 32 clams), scrubbed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
Working Ahead – the stew can be made completely ahead to the point where the clams go in; chill it quickly in a sink of ice water, then cover and refrigerate. To finish, bring the stew base up to a boil over medium heat, add the clams and proceed with the recipe.
Crack the allspice berries gently by crushing them under a small frying pan. Heat the oil in a cataplana or a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the allspice berries, bay leaves, and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bay leaves turn dark olive, about 1 minute.
Add the garlic and swirl it in the oil until golden brown on the edges, about 1 minute. Stir in the onion and bell pepper, increase the heat to medium-high, and sauté, stirring frequently, until the bell pepper begins to lose its vibrant color, about 4 minutes.
Add the chouriço and sauté it until it begins to tint the vegetables brownish-red, about another minute. Stir in the tomatoes, with their juice, the wine, and black pepper and let the stew come to a boil at a leisurely pace. (No salt will be needed because of the natural salinity of the clams.)
Add the clams, cover tightly, and steam them for 5 minutes. Stir them quickly, cover the pot again, and steam for another 4 to 5 minutes, until all the clams are open. Stir in the chopped parsley and serve family-style in the cataplana or divide among four soup plates.