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Creating culinary perfection with clams

RICHMOND, Va. – Executive Chef Patrick Willis from Lemaire Restaurant at The Jefferson Hotel was back in the Virginia This Morning kitchen with a recipe that took our tastebuds on a seafood culinary adventure. Chef Willis walked us through creating his Eastern Shore Clams dish featuring savory Chorizo paired with a crisp Green Apple and Fennel salad. For more information you can visit http://www.lemaire.com

Eastern Shore Clams with Green Apple and Chorizo

2 lb. fresh Virginia Clams
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
8 oz. Sausage Craft Chorizo, ¼ inch slices and casings removed
1 Shallot, small dice
2 Garlic Cloves, peeled and crushed
½ pint Sun Gold Tomatoes, halved
2 small Red Potatoes, medium diced and blanched
Leaves from 4 parsley sprigs, roughly chopped
1 Tablespoon butter
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 pinch Red Pepper Flake
1 cup Fennel Broth (see recipe)
1 Green Apple, cut into batonettes
1/4 Fennel Bulb, shaved very thin

Rinse the clams under cold running water with a soft bristle brush. Throw out any clams that have broken shells or will not stay closed. Heat oil in a 6-quart stockpot and lightly sear chorizo on both sides. Add shallot and garlic to create a flavorful base. Add clams and give them a good swirl. Add fennel broth, red pepper flakes and season with salt and black pepper. Cover and steam over medium-high heat for 5 to 8 minutes until the clams open. Toss in tomatoes, potatoes, parsley and butter. Cook for another minute to soften. The tomatoes should keep their shape. Serve with a salad of green apples, shaved fennel and plenty of rustic sourdough bread to sop up the delicious broth.
For the broth:
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
2 leeks, thinly sliced and cleaned thoroughly
4 parsley stems
6 whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 bay leaves
Salt to taste
½ cup dry white wine
Two garlic cloves, crushed
1 qt. water

In a wide sauce pan, combine the ingredients, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer, and cover for fifteen minutes. Pass liquid through a fine chinois, to reserve the liquid and discard the solids.