20 July 2009

Coyote Café

Mark Miller began his cooking career with Alice Waters at Chez Panisse. He was one of the first chefs to notice and embrace the Mexican ingredients and cuisine around him. Miller absorbed the old traditions of the rustic, home cooks, and gave the traditional ingredients that fresh California twist. He became a forerunner in what is now generally accepted as “Southwest” cuisine.

When I lived in Washington, D. C. I spent many a fine evening (and an occasional afternoon) in Mark Miller's Red Sage. I had a memorable birthday in Santa Fe at Coyote Café . Miller is a critical thinker, often foregoing an exact recipe to assess the raw ingredients in the kitchen and to modify a dish according to the ripeness and flavor of what he is cooking.

While he may have helped to popularize southwestern cuisine, he was born in New England. Here is a recipe from his Coyote Café cookbook that is reminiscent of the old Portuguese tradition of cooking sausage with clams.
Clam Soup with Sausage

1/2 white onion
4 large cloves garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Roma tomatoes
1 large red potato, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/2 pound hot Italian or Andouille sausage cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 cups fish stock (or clam juice)
20 small Littleneck or Manila clams, washed
1/4 bunch cilantro
4 lime wedges

Slowly sauté the onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon of oil for 15 minutes in a covered pan. Broil or sear the tomatoes over flame for 5 or 6 minutes, chop, add to pan, and continue to cook slowly for a further 20 minutes. Boil the potato in lightly salted water for 5 minutes. Rinse under cold water and set aside. Sauté the chorizo slowly in the remaining oil for 20 minutes. Reserve the sausage and oil.

Deglaze the pan with a little fish stock, and reserve the juices. Add I cup of the stock to the onions, garlic, and tomato mixture, and then add the clams. Cover, and cook over medium heat for 4 minutes. Add the chorizo, the reserved juices, and potato and continue to cook until the clams open. Add the remaining stock. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.

If you are in D. C. give Red Sage a try!

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