The Local Food Report: sweet meats in red sauce

I have a confession to make. You probably think, after all my talk this morning about the edible wonders of slipper shells, that I have actually eaten one of the gastropods. Well, I haven't. Now you know.

I tried, I really did try for you, but I simply couldn't. I did manage to convince myself that they look very similar to littlenecks, which was comforting, but I did not manage to actually throw one down the hatch.

I think it's a texture thing. I replayed Dave Masch's words again and again in my head—I have tasted his home-baked bread, after all—and he is not one to lie when it comes to what tastes good. I ought to trust him; he calls slipper shell meats sweet, chewy, and delicious. Sweet and delicious I could muster, but chewy, I wasn't so sure. Squid has never really been my thing.

Or it could have been learning about all their sex changing that got me. They live in stacks, see, with the bottom snails clinging to things like rocks, shells, and dock pilings. The larger, older animals (snails, technically) on the bottom of the pile are always females, while the smaller, younger ones are top are males. If the females die, the largest male will change gender, and move to the bottom of the stack. They've even made up a word for this. It's called being a sequential hermaphrodite.

Weird, huh?

I'm sure you've seen them—they wash up on the beaches around here all the time—particularly after winter storms. If you walk down towards the water, where the shell line or the swath of rocks is, you can find a bunch. In fact, I had no trouble collecting. Once you get your search image in mind, that's the easy part. It was the eating where I chickened out.

But luckily, Dave Masch was brave enough to try them, not just once, but many times. He's also brave enough to share a recipe he came up with for the things, which I think deserves a big pat on the back. He calls it: "Sweet Meats in Red Sauce," and he says it's quite a masterpiece.

So here it is. I hope you're brave enough to try, and if you are, I hope you'll let us all know how it goes.


by Dave Masch

3 cups tomato sauce, preferably homemade
1 cup slipper shell meats, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons Italian parsley, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
red pepper flakes to taste
1 pound linguine, cooked

Heat up tomato sauce in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add all ingredients but the linguine. Simmer for three minutes and serve over the linguine. [Dave says he likes it quite peppery hot, but how many red pepper flakes you add is definitely a personal choice. Sometimes, he adds Tabasco, too.] "That's all there is to it! Go for it, you won't be sorry," he says.

He has a few other notes. For starters, in order to extract the slipper meats from their shells, you can steam them briefly, for about 2 or 3 minutes in water, white wine, or beer. "You should be able to winkle them out in a trice!"

He also offers a recipe for a nice light tomato sauce, in case you don't have any tucked away. It is comprised simply of one 28-ounce can of whole tomatoes in puree, 2 small sliced onions, salt and pepper to taste, and a teaspoon of dried basil, "or oregano, terragon, or any other herb you fancy." You simply simmer these ingredients together for 20 minutes, stirring frequently, and if you want a smooth sauce, in the end, you puree it. And maybe, if you feel like it, you can add in 4 tablespoons of butter at the end, just for good measure (although if you do that you might not want to tell people it's "light").


Hungry Native said...

Oh you totally should have tried them! They are really good! Sweet and briny. Next time, if you are hesitant, just eat the muscle part. The belly is rather intimidating! Check out our post on Sweet Meat at http://hungrynative.com/?p=5695

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