This wonderfully flavored stew is a must for seafood lovers. Clams meet potatoes and two kinds of red peppers, and are served in a saffron flavored white wine-fish broth. The saffron contributes a pungent flavor and intense yellow color. The dish is finished with a tasty garlic-parsley mixture. Serve it with lots of rustic bread to soak up the lovely juices.
Saffron-flavored Clams and Potatoes
(The New Spanish Table)
serves 4 as a main dish
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced, plus 5 small whole garlic cloves
1/2 large white onion, finely chopped
1 Italian (frying) pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 large, ripe tomato, cut in half and grated on a box grater, skin discarded
1 1/2 cups bottled clam juice (I used fish stock)
1 large pinch of saffron, pulverized in a mortar and steeped in 3 tablespoons very hot water
2 medium-sized roasted bell peppers, chopped (I took them out of a jar)
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 pounds small Manila clams, scrubbed well
1. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and the minced garlic in a heavy 4- to 5-quart pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomato and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the juices thicken slightly, 5 minutes. Add the clam juice of fish broth or stock and enough water to cover the potatoes by 1/2 inch and bring to a boil, skimming. Stir in the saffron, the roasted peppers, and salt and black pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the potatoes are very soft but not quite falling apart, about 20 minues. Stir lighthly skim the mixture occasionally, adding a few tablespoons of water if necessary to maintain the level of liquid in the pot.
2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the 5 whole garlic cloves and cook until the garlic is golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to a mini food processor and add the parsley. Pulse until finely chopped, but not pureed.
3. Place the wine in a wide pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of the parsley-mixture and the clams. Cover the pot and let the clams steam until they open, 4 to 7 minutes. Discard any unopened clams.
4. Stir the remaining parsley mixture into the potato mixture. Gently stir in the clams and their liquid, taking care not to crush the potatoes. Cook over medium heat until the flavors meld, 1 to 2 minutes. Spoon the stew into bowls and serve at once.