These little pot pies are a combination of two of my favorite dishes. I use manila clams from Hog Island Oyster Co. and reserve a few of their shells for decoration. The filling can be made a day in advance for easy assembly. Make sure to warm the filling before putting it into the pots – this will help the puff pastry rise evenly. To keep the clams from becoming chewy keep them separate from the filling and fold them in just before baking.
Yield: makes 6 servings – Active Time: 30 minutes – Total Time: 1 hour
2 lbs manila clams, preferably local
4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 strips bacon, cut into ¼ x ¼-inch strips
1 carrot, peeled and diced (about ½ cup)
1 celery stalk, diced (about ½ cup)
½ small white onion, diced (about ½ cup)
1 small Yukon Gold potato, diced (about ½ cup)
¼ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup chicken broth
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 450° F.
Place the clams in a large strainer and rinse well with cold water. Remove any with broken shells and discard. Melt half of the butter over high heat in a large pot fitted with a lid. As soon as the butter is bubbling add the clams and place the lid on the pot. Steam clams for 3 to 4 minutes. While clams are steaming place the strainer inside a large bowl. Make sure that it’s resting just inside the lip with plenty of space below it. Line the strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and set aside. Remove the lid and stir the clams with a large spoon. Place the lid back on and steam for another 2 to 3 minutes or until all of the clams have opened. Turn the heat off and pour the clams into the strainer discarding any that haven’t opened. Let the clams cool until room temperature and then remove meat from shells. Save a small bowl of shells for decorating the tops of the pot pies and discard the rest.
Heat the remaining butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel lined plate. Add the onion, celery and carrot to the bacon fat cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the potato and cook for another minute. Add the white wine and cook until the liquid has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables stir until mixture is light golden brown and flour is no longer visible, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, reserved liquid from the clams and fresh thyme and bring filling to a boil. Stir in the heavy whipping cream, salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and fold in the clams. Divide the mixture between 6 small soup pots or ramekins.
Defrost the puff pastry on a parchment paper lined baking sheet sprinkled with flour. Using a round cookie cutter about 1 inch larger than your ramekin and punch out 6 pastry circles. Reserve the remaining puff pastry for another use. Chill the pastry rounds in the freezer for a few minutes or until firm to the touch.
Brush the rims of each pot or ramekin with the egg wash and then top with a puff pastry round, pressing on the rim gently to seal. Brush the tops of the pastry with the egg wash (not the edges). Cut a small slit in the center of each potpie for steam and place an open clam shell in the center of each, pressing down gently to adhere.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden. Let pot pies rest for at least 5 minutes before serving as filling will be very hot.