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From the food editor: Expand your view of food with this discussion, and this recipe

This New England Clam Chowder was inspired by a recipe by Jos? Andr?s.

New York Times

This New England Clam Chowder was inspired by a recipe by Jos? Andr?s.

I hope you are ready to expand your mind with this week's Taste section.

One burning question drove the content on the following pages, inspired by a recently opened exhibit at the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg: Can food be considered art?

The exhibit, "Ferran Adria: The Invention of Food," features the work of Ferran Adria, a Spanish chef considered one of the best in the world. At the helm of elBulli, a restaurant in Spain that closed in 2011, Adria was famous for his avant-garde cooking style that changed the way the world thought about food. Many of the techniques he pioneered are copied in high-end restaurants everywhere.

In our cover story, Times food critic Laura Reiley and Times art critic Lennie Bennett discuss whether the sort of dishes Adria and other chefs produce should be considered works of art. It is a fascinating conversation, whether or not you have an opinion about either topic.

For this week's recipe, we wanted to be equally challenging. The dish, New England Clam Chowder, is an avant-garde twist on a classic. I know not everyone will want to get in the kitchen to whip this up immediately, but maybe it can serve as inspiration for adventurous home cooks who want to try something out of their comfort zone. The recipe comes from a 2004 New York Times story in which two Times writers attempted a home-cooked meal inspired by "new wave chefs" like Adria.

The writers prepared gin gelatin to form bite-sized martinis; they made "dry crudites" out of dehydrated dill pickle, jicama chips and caper "nuts." And the clam chowder, "with its layered whites and grays, its electric-green chive oil garnish, and the pinkish-orange clam on top, looked gorgeous, and it may have been the night's most popular course." The recipe originally comes from José Andrés, a Spanish chef who trained with Adria at elBulli.

The thing about this recipe is its simplicity. I know, that sounds crazy. This New England Clam Chowder has multiple steps, and one of them involves turning bacon into a creamy substance. But take a look at the ingredient list. Aside from one or two ingredients, you probably already have most of this stuff in your kitchen. And on their own, these steps aren't particularly difficult. This recipe is all about building flavors by making separate components — cream, potatoes, clam, clam broth, onion, bacon and chives — that come together to create a complex dish. Maybe, even, a work of art.

Contact Michelle Stark at mstark@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8829. Follow @mstark17.

hard

New England Clam Chowder

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 12 cherrystone clams, rinsed
  • 12 to 16 ice cubes
  • 1 packet (¼ ounce) unflavored gelatin powder
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup minced chives
  • ½ pound russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Crushed black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chopped white or yellow onion (about 1 large)
  • ¼ pound thick-cut bacon, about 4 slices
  • 6 potato chips, finely crushed

Instructions

  1. Clams and clam-broth jelly: Fill a 6-quart pot halfway with water, add 1 tablespoon salt and boil over high heat. Immerse 4 clams for 15 to 20 seconds and remove. Working over a small bowl, shuck the 4 clams with a short sharp paring knife, reserving the liquid they release. Reserve shelled clams in another small bowl. Return any stubborn clams to boiling water for a few seconds. Repeat, cooking 4 clams at a time, using all 12. Drain accumulated clam juice into clam juice bowl, cover clams with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, pour 1 ½ quarts cold water into a large bowl and add ice cubes. Strain clam juice into another small bowl. (You should have about 1 cup; add water if necessary.) Pour ¾ cup clam juice into small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until it simmers. Soften unflavored gelatin in remaining clam juice. Pour hot clam juice over gelatin and whisk until it dissolves. Set bowl of clam juice and gelatin halfway into ice-water bath, whisking often, for about 5 minutes, as the gel begins to set. Remove bowl when juice is barely set, but not firm.
  3. Chive oil: Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a small saucepan until just smoking; remove from heat. Add minced chives and ¼ teaspoon salt, stirring to dissolve. Let cool for 10 minutes, puree in a blender, strain through a fine mesh strainer and reserve.
  4. Potato puree: Boil 4 cups of water in a small saucepan. Add 1 teaspoon salt and potatoes, cooking until fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving boiling water, and mash potatoes in medium bowl. Transfer to a food processor, add 1 teaspoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt and 6 tablespoons potato water and blend you have a thick paste. Add 2 tablespoons cream, stirring, until potato is consistency of thickened cream. Thin further, if necessary, with potato water. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
  5. Onion jam: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt and chopped onion in a medium skillet over medium-low heat and saute, stirring frequently, until onion is very soft, but not caramelized, about 15 minutes. Puree in a food processor with 1 tablespoon olive oil until smooth; season with salt to taste and reserve. Keep warm.
  6. Bacon cream: Lay bacon in a cold skillet and fry over medium-high heat, flipping several times, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup cream to pan with bacon still in it and turn off heat. Allow to rest 5 minutes; remove and reserve bacon strips. Chop bacon for use as garnish. Keep cream warm but not hot, whipping to a froth just before serving.
  7. Assemble servings in 6 shallow bowls. Spoon 2 tablespoons warm potato puree into each bowl. Add 1 tablespoon warm onion jam, slightly off-center. Spoon 1 tablespoon bacon cream around edge of purees. Place two room-temperature clams in center of bowl. If clam broth jelly has solidified, whisk it until it is a loose gel and spoon 1 teaspoon directly over clam in each bowl. Drizzle chive oil over dish. Garnish with reserved bacon and pinches of crushed potato chips. Serves 6.
Source: Adapted from José Andrés

From the food editor: Expand your view of food with this discussion, and this recipe 10/10/16 [Last modified: Monday, October 10, 2016 3:55pm]
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