Last weekend, I reached for my copy of Italian Grill once again. I don’t actually eat much red meat, so I’ve been cooking from the fish and shellfish section. I have read through all of it, however, and Mario is just fantastic. I noticed in the pizza section that his dough includes white wine. Interesting. I’m going to have to try that too.
The clams in cartoccio couldn’t be simpler to prepare. Pancetta is browned, and garlic, crushed red pepper, and diced sweet peppers are added. All of this is bathed in white wine and then allowed to cool. This mixture is spooned over clams that have been placed in foil packets, and the packets are sent to the grill.
As I just mentioned, I don’t eat much red meat, but Mario suggested the use of pancetta, and so be it. I included it because I sensed the flavor was important here, and the pork nuggets were easily avoided while eating the dish. It’s a grey area. My reason for not eating red meat is that I just don’t really enjoy it. Little tastes slip by here and there, but I’m not drawn to it. For instance, paella isn’t paella without the flavor from chorizo. But, my attention is on the chicken and shellfish and the sausage pieces get moved to the side of the plate. This isn’t my only food issue, and maybe I’ll change my mind some day. I won’t even attempt to explain my thing with onions.
Kurt has no meat eating issues and was very pleased with the clams and the pancetta. The clams were perfectly tender, and the resulting broth was indescribably good. Grilled bread was used as a vehicle for it; although, I could have drunk from the parchment-lined foil. The clams and pancetta provided the only source of salt, and it was just the right amount. Mario wrote that when the foil packets are opened at the table, your guests will experience a piscatorial facial. I would like to steal his term and refer to the broth as heavenly piscatorial nectar. I highly recommend it, and eating or not eating the pancetta is entirely up to you.