Spaghetti alle Vongole

Quick, easy and one of the most delicious pasta dishes outside of a good pesto. Afterwards, just sit back and enjoy a crisp Pinto Grigio or Rose like you're sitting seaside on the Almafi coast.  

The clams are the star of this dish, but co-starring is the garlic. You may also call this dish 'Aglio con Spaghetti alle Vongole.'  I've cooked this recipe for years using the sweetness of caramelized garlic, which adds a nice component to this dish. Yes, my family in Italy is shaking their heads right now as they cook with a very little amount of garlic. Go figure? But here in the US we've become accustomed to big flavors in our dishes. So get out my old recipe for caramelized garlic and make a half dozen heads, I guarantee you won't have any left. 

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Spaghetti alle Vongole recipe by George Hirsch

makes 4-6 servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle from Know Your Fire Cookbook

1 pound dry spaghetti or linguine

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

2 heads caramelized garlic cloves, crushed

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 pounds Manila or littleneck clams, scrubbed and rinsed well

1 cup dry white wine 

Juice of 1 lemon

4 Tablespoons sweet butter

Freshly ground black pepper

4 Tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, rough chopped

2 Tablespoons fresh basil, rough chopped

Optional: 1/4 cup lightly toasted bread crumbs

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente.

Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to toss the spaghetti directly into the sauce.

Pre heat a deep side saute pan or dutch oven; add olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes; saute for 1 minute. Add the clams, wine, half the parsley and lemon juice. Cover and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until all the clams are opened, about 5 - 8 minutes. Discard any clams that do not open.

Increase heat to medium temperature add the hot, drained linguine to the pan; add the butter and season with pepper. Toss the pasta with the clams to coat pasta with clam sauce. Top with chopped parsley, basil and toasted bread crumbs. Drizzle with additional olive oil. Serve immediately.

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Cedar Planked

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Can late summer get boring with another burger on the grill. You bet! So, it's time to change it up. 

You are going to need cedar planks for today's fish recipe. I am encouraging you to step outside + grill with this recipe. Soak planks for 30 minutes before you fire-up the grill. Make sure the grill is good and hot, this is key! Grilled cedar planked fish takes on a wonderful smokey flavor with more flair and a lot less hassle as you grill. The plank will be charred, but the fish will be perfectly cooked. This technique of cooking on planks is not new. The Indians in the Pacific Northwest cooked on cedar and alder, a tradition done for many centuries.

This weekend when you are running errands, head to the hardware store and pick up some cedar planks. Oh- be sure they are untreated non-resined wood, no thicker than 1 inch. Cedar and alder are popular choices, but mesquite, cherry, peach, apple, and oak also add their own unique flavors. Just give it a try and have a good time. Enjoy.

Cedar Plank Fish

makes two servings

chefgeorgehirsch.comGeorge Hirsch Lifestyle

1 cedar plank

Two 10-ounce salmon, trout or halibut fillets

juice of one fresh lemon

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons maple syrup

3 tablespoons olive oil

Fresh ground black pepper

2 Tablespoons butter

Soak plank in water to cover 1 hour; drain.

Pre heat Grill to high.

Rub plank with one tablespoon olive oil. Place fillets on plank; season with pepper, parsley, syrup and lemon juice. Top with remaining olive oil.

Grill 10-14 minutes or until fish is cooked. The thickness of the fillets will determine final cooking time.

Prior to serving top with fresh butter and serve with extra fresh lemon slices.

Summer is ripe for Lobster Roll

Is a lobster roll the new hamburger? 

George Hirsch Lifestyle Lobster Roll

There are many seaside locations up and down the coast that serve very good lobster rolls. And, I have enjoyed many. What is a good lobster roll? Set the bar by preparing the rolls chock-filled with fresh lobster meat.. Add a good bowl of your favorite chowder and you will feel as if you are in Montauk.

Buy lobsters from a reputable fish monger. How the lobsters are caught, handled and stored is the key to the flavor of the meat. And, never use lobster meat that is spongy, a sign the lobster was falling off or died before cooking. 

Chef George Hirsch's Lobster Roll

George’s Lobster Roll

Makes six sandwiches 

* 1 1/2 - 2 pounds knuckle & claw lobster meat, , cooked (How-to cook Lobsters)

6 top-split long soft rolls 

3 Tablespoons celery, chopped fine 

1 Tablespoon chives, chopped 

1 Tablespoon parsley, chopped 

Juice of 1 lemon  

1 teaspoon hot sauce

3 Tablespoons butter, melted 

Optional: 1/4 cup mayonnaise. Or, 2 additional Tablespoons of melted butter added in place of mayo. 

Cut lobster meat into 1 inch pieces. In a large bowl toss lobster meat, mayonnaise, celery, chives, parsley, lemon, and hot sauce. 

Brush rolls on the outside with butter and lightly toast on a griddle or in a large sauté pan.
Divide lobster filling up into the 6 rolls and serve immediately. 

TIP: Steaming lobsters preserves the flavor of the meat. Buy lobsters steamed from your local fish market.

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Divided BY Chowder

Celebrating Chef George's 25th Anniversary on PBS

If there is one thing I have learned as a chef there as many versions of chowder recipes as there are people who enjoy this soup, err..I mean stew..no I think soup?  

George Hirsch Chowder

Each of my cookbooks and TV series has a version of some sort of a chowder recipe. I have judged chowder contests, participated in chef chowder tastings, and been a referee at a few chowder-boxing matches. Well, not really, but people do get heated up over red or white chowder. 

What really is chowder? The word "chowder" comes from the French word chaudiere, or caldron, the vessel in which the dish was cooked. And, derives from the word "jowter," meaning fishmonger, a term that was used in 16th century coastal regions of England.

George Hirsch Seafood

Is it a soup or stew? Early versions of chowder simmered from the New England area and was basically a frugal recipe of pork fat, onions, potatoes, fish, herbs, dry biscuits or flour for thickening, layered in a pot and cooked in water, with a little milk added at the end. In the 1800’s the Manhattan clam chowder was notable because it contains tomatoes. James Beard described Manhattan clam chowder "that rather horrendous soup called Manhattan clam chowder resembles a vegetable soup that accidentally had some clams dumped into it." All respect Mr. Beard, but those are fighting words. As a New Yorker and from coastal Long Island, an East Ender we take our chowder VERY serious. See, how a discussion on chowder can turn into a sparring match.

Tomato-based clam chowders came about with the newfound popularity of the tomato in the mid-1800s with the large population of Italians and Portuguese in New York and Rhode Island region. Still, there is no chowder harmony. In 1939, Maine legislators introduced a bill outlawing the use of tomatoes in chowder because it is far more of a vegetable soup. What? 

I can end this entire soup divide right now. Aside from any vegetables, corn, chicken or other non-seafarer ingredient for the stew--here are three versions you can enjoy from my TV series and cookbooks. They have satisfied many and with hope can prevent a nation from future chowder conflict. 

Manhattan vs. New England Chowder N.E. not my fav..

Seafood Chowder Yes, now this is a stew!

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