Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Baby clam "Minnesotan hotdish" 子ハマグリのミネソタ風キャセロール

Recently we cleaned out the basement and my wife found an old box of “Betty Crocker” recipe cards. This was the first cookbook she ever owned. She subscribed to the cookbook and every month she would get a packet of recipe cards which she could store in the  large plastic box they provided for the purpose. In about a year she had the whole cookbook of cards. Over time she stuffed other recipes cut out of newspapers or received from friends into the box. Eventually she moved to more sophisticated recipe books and the box sat gathering dust for at least 25 years. The eclectic collection of newspaper or hand written recipes from friends were by far the most interesting.

This recipe was written in a very careful hand on a used computer punch card (which gives you an idea of how old it is). My wife didn’t remember the dish but the fact she asked for it from a friend indicates that at one time she really liked it. So we decided to make it. As the dish started to take shape we realized that it had to be a “Minnesota hotdish”.  The additional fact that, my wife had a friend from the midwest who was a computer specialist working on a mainframe computer that used punch cards cinched the identification.

The recipe starts with the unlikely combination of 20 coarsely crushed soda crackers soaked in 1 1/2 cup milk for 20 minutes. In another bowl, mix 3 well-beaten eggs, 1tbs grated onion, the entire contents of a can of baby (or chopped) clams (10 oz can, liquid and all), 1/4 cup melted butter and salt and pepper to taste. After the crackers have soaked add them to the egg mixture. Pour the mixture into a greased 13x9x2 inch pan. Bake in a 300 degree oven for 1 hour.

This comes out like a clam quiche without the crust. The soda crackers completely disappear. It has a very pleasant clam-y taste. It has to be a classic hotdish--easy to make, complete with canned ingredients. Maybe this, unbeknown to us, is a classic “long lost” hotdish favorite. Despite its oddity, I really kinda like this dish. I can see why I asked my friend for the recipe. My husband, however, remains a bit skeptical due to the unusual combination of ingredients. I can see potential here however—sorry hubbie you may be seeing this again in other mutations.

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