Gen’l Jackson’s Grilled Little Necks & Sancerre

The recipe for this dish was inspired by the “Hero of New Orleans”.  On January 8, 1815 Andrew Jackson in defense of New Orleans led 5,000 soldiers of several militias from the western States and territories and won a decisive victory over 7,500 British.  Of his men, General Jackson was reputed to have said, “They stood like grilled little necks.”  This dish combines roasted clams, andouille sausage & smoked paprika cooked in a wine broth.  It’s embarrassingly simple to prepare.  I served the little necks with thick sliced Italian bread that I toasted on the grill… perfect for “dunking”

I opened a bottle of Sancerre to accompany the dish.  I love Loire Valley Sauvignon Blancs… they have a superb minerality, and fresh acidity that work so well against flavorful seafood cuisine. I could have gone with an Albariño from Spain, too… for the same reason.  Falanghina from Campania has richness that would work.  And if Chardonnay is your thing, then a crisp 1er Cru Chablis would be the ticket.

Domaine des Hauts de Maimbray Sancerre ’13 (Loire, France)

The vineyards of the Domaine have the characteristic kimmeridgean marl (clay-limestone) which produces the exceptional mineral sense of this Sancerre. Upon harvest, the must undergoes a cold soak to extract flavors prior to alcoholic fermentation begins. Aged on its lees for 3 to 4 months in stainless steel tanks. An exceptionally fresh wine is the result, beautiful gooseberry and citrus overlaying a firm minerality. On the palate this wine presents a bracing blend of fresh flavors, yet shows restraint and elegance.  A satisfying finish with good acidity in the balance making the wine ideal either as an aperitif or alongside seafood and lighter dishes. One glass is never enough, have a second bottle ready to open!

 Grilled little necks

GEN’L JACKSON’S GRILLED LITTLE NECKS

6 ounces of Tanqueray Gin

½ ounce of Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth

A goodly amount of ice

3 dozen little neck clams, well scrubbed

½ lb andouille sausage, cut into ¼ inch slices

6 oz unsalted butter

3 cloves minced garlic

2 tsp smoked paprika

½ cup dry white wine

¼ cup sliced peppadew peppers

1 lemon cut into quarters

3 tbs minced fresh flat leaf parsley

1. Put gin and vermouth into a glass pitcher, fill with ice, stir vigorously while incanting, “You who know all, thank you for providing us juniper and all the other obscure ingredients responsible for creating this sacred liquid!” Strain into a pre-frozen Martini glass of admirable size.  Skewer the olives on one of those tacky cocktail swords, place in glass. Immediately begin consuming.  Now you can begin the food prep, and the cooking!

2. Put clams directly on the grill, medium high heat.

3. Put butter in an aluminum roasting pan on grill. Let butter mostly melt down, add garlic, paprika, sausage, peppers and wine.

4. As clams open up, remove from grill and put into roasting pan.  When all the clams are in the roasting pan (discard unopened clams), squeeze two lemon wedges over clams and close cover on grill.  Heat for 3 – 5 minutes.

5. Take off heat.  Serve clams in individual serving bowls, add some broth and garnish with fresh parsley and a lemon wedge.  Serve with thick cut grilled toast. 

P.S. I made the stuff up about Jackson saying that his men stood their ground like “grilled little necks”.  It just seemed to fit.

Andy Jackson

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