If you visit Charleston without sampling some fresh, local food, you would be doing yourself a serious disservice. Each guest deserves to have a taste of Charleston, so we start their afternoon off with tasty hors d’oeuvres prepared by our sister restaurant Circa 1886. This summer the culinary team at Circa 1886 created a popular hors d’oeuvres spread using locally sourced clams and fresh mussels. As seen below, the end result is brilliant, colorful and delicious.
Hot and cold, soft and crunchy, sweet and sour, bitter, spicy, salty… our clam and mussel appetizer is all about balance. This finger food offers some crunch from the toast points, a chewy bite from the mollusks, the sweetness of roasted garlic, playful bitterness of chow chow, and rounding fatty notes from its bacon vinaigrette dressing.
Executive Sous Chef Jason Culbertson of Circa 1886 shared his recipe so you can take this crowd pleaser home.
Healthy bushel of clams and mussels (depending on how many people you are serving)
Wheat bread, cut into 1-inch squares
1 onion, finely diced
7-8 garlic cloves, shelled and whole
Bacon Vinaigrette, definitely homemade
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Rinse clams and mussels.
Melt equal parts butter and olive oil in pan – enough to coat the bottom.
Add garlic cloves and onions. Sweat them out over medium head for ~8 minutes.
Add mussels and clams and cook for ~20, stirring/tossing occasionally. Keep them covered to steam them.
Remove clams and mussels from their shell and place into a bowl. Do not serve any mollusks that have not opened naturally. Disposable gloves reduce the mess.
Lightly brush the bread squares with the leftover garlic oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and bake @ 350 for ~5 minutes, until golden and toasted.
Place a thumbnail sized portion of chow chow on the toasted bread. Place a clam or mussel on each piece of bread, then a small sprig of parsley. Finish with a small squeeze of bacon vinaigrette.