Iíve been looking for the right clam pie for almost as long as Iíve been pizza obsessed. Iíve had them with a with a white, alfredo-type sauce; Iíve had them on a white pie with mozzarella cheese; and Iíve had New Haven style with olive oil, garlic, oregano, and parmesan; but none of them did it for me. It was not until I ate at Frannyís in Brooklyn a couple weeks ago that I discovered what I want a clam pie to taste like. http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,16867.0.html
When I ate there, I was so mesmerized by the pie that I didnít even think to go watch them make it until it was too late Ė and that was when I was on my second clam pie! Two things seemed apparent to me in retrospect, however. First, the clams were not cooked when they went on the pie (and they must have been HUGE clams as they were big and plump like an oyster Ė which I plan to try very soon!). If they had been cooked first, they would have been tough and dry, but they were perfectly plump and tender. Second, I donít think there was any cheese on the pie.
I googled ďFrannyís clam pieĒ and found a recipe in the NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/20/dining/201crex.html
). Sure enough it didnít have any cheese, but I was pretty sure it was not the recipe used in the restaurant either. Iím thinking there was not wine used in Frannyís pie for one thing, but I stand to be corrected. The recipe called for boiling the clams with wine, onions, garlic, and bay leaf, and then reducing the liquid, adding cream, and then reducing it further. I played around with making a sauce like this without boiling the clams (I knew I wanted them to go on raw). Even if this is they way they do it at Frannyís, itís too much work, and the sauce, while beautiful and rich, is just too salty from the reduced clam juice to go on a pie. I did get excited though as the sauce had a flavor very similar to the brie and oyster soup I made for Christmas. I knew I was on the right path.
When playing around with the sauce, I tried it with and without wine, and as I expected, I liked it much better without the wine. I was happy about that as I was going to put enough liquid on the pie without adding any wine as well.
I opened 15 or so clams reserving all the juice. I did this ahead of time and put it in the refrigerator. When it came time to top the pie, I opened the skin and scattered around the clams being sure to bring plenty of the clam juice with them. Getting a good bit of the juice on the pie is key to this recipe! I then swirled on a healthy dose of EVOO and maybe twice as much heavy cream. Lastly, I sprinkled on some red pepper flakes and chopped garlic. After the bake, I topped it with chopped flat leaf parsley. Thatís it.
This pie is incredible. The clam juice, EVOO, and cream cook down to a super thick, rich, creamy, and briny glaze that is luscious and yet primal at the same time. If you served the pie to someone who didnít know any better, they would tell you it had cheese on it. With the heat of the pepper flakes and the freshness of the parsley, it will absolutely make your tongue want to beat your brains out. Itís that good.
More info on the dough here: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,14249.msg168867.html#msg168867