Monday, June 04, 2007

A Bit of the New England Shore Between Two Buns

A few weeks ago, Freya and Paul the extraordinary minds behind Writing at the Kitchen Table announced they were on the search for the best burger ever. Well, let me rephrase that sentence, Paul was on the search for the best burger ever and Freya, like a good and supportive partner, was humouring him. So, the Big Burger Ballyhoo 2007 was born. Unfortunately, with all the craziness of the past month, I didn't get my entry submitted in time. But, not wanting Paul (and Freya) to miss out on what could have been the best burger ever, I present to you the New England Clam Bake Burger.

There is nothing like a real New England Clam Bake, where a large pit is dug in the sand near the ocean but far enough up the beach that the tide won't wash into the pit. The pit is then filled with large rocks and drift wood and the drift wood is then burned to heat up the rocks. When the drift wood has coaled, rock seaweed is collected and placed on top of the hot rocks and coals to create steam. On top of the seaweed, potatoes, onions and husk wrapped, salt water soaked ears of corn are placed. Then Quahog and Steamer (Cherrystone) clams and lobsters are placed on top of the vegetables. Sometimes, people will add mussels, scallops, quarter chickens and Linguica to the mix. All this is followed by another layer of seaweed and a wet canvas tarp with an onion or potato on top. This is then covered by a layer of sand to keep the heat in and marked with a stick or something so you don't lose it. Then you go play in the water, play a game of beach volleyball or badminton or lie around drinking beer for about four hours, checking occasionally when you are on the way to the beer cooler to see if the top onion or potato is cooked through. When it is, you uncover all the food and serve it with melted butter and lots of napkins. Yum!!!

The New England Clam Bake Burger is a mixture of scallop and steamed clam and lobster meat combined with a bit of french bread, Dijon mustard, egg, and chopped onion and green pepper to form a patty.

The burger is then seared in a pan and finished under the broiler for 3-5 minutes to make sure the scallops and egg are cooked throughly. Serve it on a melted butter drizzled big bun like you find at the good Portuguese bakeries in Fall River or New Bedford along with grilled summer vegetables and an ear of corn. There you have it a New England Clam Bake Burger.

New England Clam Bake Burger

Makes 4 big patties

1/3lb sea scallops
1/3 lb steamed Quahog or Cherrystone clam meat
1/3 lb steamed lobster claws
1/2 cup day old French bread crumbs
1 large egg
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1/8 cup chopped onion
1/8 cup chopped green pepper
2 Tbsp milk or heavy cream
1/8 tsp pepper
dash salt

Chop seafood into tiny chunks, but not finely. Put in large bowl and add rest of ingredients. Using your fingers, combine the ingredients, making tiny test patties to see how the burger holds together. If too moist, add a bit more bread crumbs. If too dry, add a bit more milk or cream. When mixture holds a good patty form, sear in a non stick or cooking spray coated frying pan. Make sure each side has a nice toasted brown coating, about 3 minutes each side. Finish under a broiler for 3 - 5 minutes or until burger is cooked through.

Serve on a toasted bun drizzled with melted butter.