Big Clam Pie
How many of you have ever made a clam pie? A big clam pie?
Let me be more specific.
How many of you have made a Geoduck Pie?
Would you have passed right by this post and said, “I don’t think so”, if I had titled it “Geoduck Pie”?
Now tell the truth. More than a few, I bet.
But, please read on. There’s a surprise at the end.
Geoduck Pie has got to be one of the best savory pies I’ve ever had or made and over the last months I’ve made a few, each more flavorful and satisfying than the last.
How did I come to make such a wonderfully odd pie?
Well, in my “other” life, (we all seem to have more than one these days, yes?), I have the honor and privilege of working for Taylor Shellfish Farms.
The Taylor Family has been growing shellfish sustainably for over 100 years and the fifth generation of the family is now onboard.
Bill Taylor, the patriarch of the clan (and my boss), has had a few of my pies over the years. In fact, when I head to the company headquarters in Shelton, WA for meetings, 9 times out of 10 I bring a pie to share of which short work is made.
When I asked Bill, if I might have a geoduck to experiment with in a savory pie, he immediately said, “Yes”.
Let’s learn a bit about geoduck first. OK?
Geoduck (which is pronounced “gooey-duck”) come from the Nisqually Indian word gweduc which means “dig deep” and that is just what these critters do. They burrow down deep in the sand on a tiny foot in the location where they are “planted”. A geoduck stays in this one spot its entire lifetime which, in the wild, can be a very long time. The longest lived recorded geoduck is 168 years old! And, the rings are counted on their shells much like trees to tell the age. The one that I used for this pie was a farmed 2+ pounder about 7 years old.
Geoducks are really easy to prepare with just a quick dunk (count to 10) in boiling water. (Be sure to use tongs when you put it in and out so you don’t burn yourself, please!) After it comes out, make two cuts, one on the inside of each of the two halves of the shell so that the meat can come right out followed by a third cut along the middle of the body (also called the mantle) in order to remove and discard the innards that will not be going into the pie.
There is a skin that is on the long neck (the siphon) which must come off, too, before we’re ready. After the hot water “treatment” it’s very easy to just slide it off. It’s sort of like taking off the thin casing on sausage. If you stretch it out its full length you will be amazed at how long that siphon really is. That is the total length of the neck when it is fully extended. After you’ve looked it can be discarded also.
Now, we rinse the body and siphon meat well in ice cold water.
With me so far? Not hard, is it!
Next, chop or slice up the mantle and siphon meat much like you would for stir fry or small pieces of meat for stew.
That’s all there is to that part.
Next add whatever you think would be good in a tasty clam chowder. I used red potatoes…
garlic diced and onions chopped…
a few stalk of celery and a handful or two of flat leaf Italian parsley both chopped…
sautéed in olive oil with some salt & pepper to taste…
some good quality bacon cooked up slowly and then…
chopped into about 1 inch size pieces. If you want to cut them up first and then cook them, that’s fine, too.
Add the chopped geoduck and mix everything all together with more seasonings of your choice, I used parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, salt and pepper…
and cook for a few more minutes until your kitchen is smelling really good. Cool slightly.
My friend, Kelly, brought over a black truffle for the one I made for Pie Party earlier this summer and I have to say, that the addition of some thinly shaved slices on top, while the filling was still warm, sent our senses spinning!
We’re on to the homestretch now. Roll out a pie dough and place in the pie pan. Put the cooled filling in and place the top crust over it. The bottom crust tends to disappear in the baking but I like the added flavor and thickening it adds. Feel free to try it with just a top crust.
Crimp the edges, cut some vents and brush with an egg yolk wash.
Pop it into a preheated hot oven (425F) for about 20 minutes and then turn it down to 375F or so for an additional 30-35 minutes or until you see some steam coming out of the vents and the color is golden on top.
(Every oven is slightly different so cooking times may vary.)
Cool for ten minutes or so and serve.
My pie served 6 very easily with leftovers for the next day.
Recently I read in Vol 2 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, that it was the Fanny Farmer Cookbook that changed recipes from “a mounded soup-spoon full” to more standard measurements. I’ve always cooked and baked that old-style way and historic recipes work pretty well for me so I’ve written it up in an old style. But, drop me a line at artofthepie dot gmail dot com with Big Clam Pie in the subject if you would like it “new style” and I’ll write one up and send it to you.
And, since you’ve read all the way through to the end, here’s a picture of me and the ‘duck.