Saturday, December 31, 2016

Not a Sam The Cooking Guy Recipe, But it Should Be

Before we left on our Christmas trip, we were watching some pizza episode of a restaurant show on The Travel Channel. I don't even remember what show it was. But they were talking about innovative and original pizzas around the country, and one of them caught my attention.

The narrator talked about the white clam pizza, which was first made famous by Frank Pepe of Pepe's Pizzeria in New Haven, CT. The recipe wasn't given but the ingredients were mentioned just enough for me to jot them down. "Frank Pepe originated the New Haven-style thin crust pizza which he baked in bread ovens fired by coke. Coke is a byproduct of coal and it was used extensively until the late 1960's when it became unavailable and hence coal was then put into use to fire the oven.

"Pepe's signature pizza, the White Clam Pizza, was most likely an organic inspiration by Frank Pepe; an idea born from the fact that Pepe's also served raw little neck clams from Rhode Island, on the half shell, as an appetizer."

Last night, I took my own crack at it. There is probably a lot more to the Pepe version of this pizza than what was revealed, but I was fairly impressed with how my version turned out. The thing is, I think I have been more inspired by Sam the Cooking Guy than I have by any other cook. A year ago, before I started using his cookbooks and really paying attention to him, I would have had to look this recipe up online first. This time, I just jumped right in without an actual recipe.

Right off hand, this should really be made in a wood fire oven or on a grill. However, it was windy last night and I didn't feel like standing outside to grill a pizza. so, I wimped out and made in the oven.


  • 1 pound prepared pizza dough--Shane didn't want to try this pizza, so I cut the rectangular roll-out pizza dough I bought right down the middle and turned it into two smaller, different pizzas.
  • 4 large cloves garlic--I used store-bought minced garlic.
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive
  • ¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese--I thought for sure that I had Parmesan cheese, but I didn't, so I had to substitute some sliced Fontina cheese instead.
  • 1 can of clams, drained

    Position a rack in lowest position of oven; preheat to 350°F.  Roll out the dough on to your baking sheet. The dough I bought came rolled up on parchment paper, and it was recommended to use that paper on the baking sheet while it was being baked.

    Brush the top of the dough with the olive oil. Top the dough and olive oil with your cheese, and then spread the minced garlic over that. Scatter the clams over the cheese. Just so you know, if you've never opened a can of clams, they are kind of stinky. However, once they come out of the oven, that smell is gone. 

    Put the pizza in the oven and bake until the crust is crispy and golden and the cheese is melted, 15-17 minutes, or whatever your dough calls for.

    Like I mentioned above, I was quite happy with how this turned out. I do think the Parmesan would have been better than the Fontina, because Parmesan tastes salty to me. That would have paired well, naturally, with the clams. But overall, this needed a light cheese, both in taste and in color. The whole pizza itself had a very light taste. Because it's got just a few toppings and no traditional pizza sauce on it, it's not a heavy thing to eat.

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