Like many Maine families, our Sunday afternoons in January have been occupied with watching the 2020 National Football League playoffs. After the Patriots loss to the Titans last year in the wild card round, we were heart broken when New England’s favorite, local quarterback Tom Brady went to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Torn between loyalties to New England and proud of the former homegrown hero was a cheering challenge. Once New England was eliminated from the Super Bowl, I must admit we’ve been rooting for a new team.
Tom Brady and the Buccaneers did not disappoint, and the match-up between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay will be hosted at the Raymond James Stadium in Florida this February 7th. Historically speaking, the Buccaneers are the first team ever to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium. Curious as to what the 22,000 fans at the Stadium will be eating, I checked out the latest concessions on their website.
Local favorites include Cuban sandwiches and sweet potato fries. Prime-ribbed topped nachos, cheesy dip, chicken wings, Rueben’s and pizza are also featured on the menu. Conch Fritters, a savory, deep-fried cake similar to a doughnut hole, are also a local highlight, and my Super Bowl food inspiration.
Conch, pronounced kongk, is a gastrop mollusk, or snail, encased in a beautiful, brightly colored spiral shell. Conch is found in southern waters, and is particularly popular with Floridians and Caribbeans. The footlike muscle can be eaten raw in salads, and is often chopped and used in chowders. Summer is the peak time for conch, which can also be purchased canned or frozen.
Because cans of clams, not conch, are most often in Mainer’s pantries, this football fan will be whipping up a batch of Clam Fritters. The batter for this easy recipe can be prepared in advance and stored in your refrigerator. Just be sure to allow it to come to room temperature before frying.
Like many fried foods, the temperature of the oil is critical. Too cold, and the pastry will absorb oil and be quite greasy. Fat that is too hot burns the outside and leaves a doughy middle. For this reason, I like to use an electric skillet. The thermometer on the skillet regulates the temperature beautifully, producing a melt-in-your mouth morsel, perfectly seasoned with clams.
Fritters taste best hot, right out of the fat. They are still pretty tasty at room temperature, and make a fine meal when reheated in a 350-degree oven.
This is perfect Super Bowl finger food. With a nod to both New England and TB, serve up Clam Fritters with your favorite dipping sauces, and plenty of napkins.
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons melted butter or oil
- 1 cup liquids for clam fritters, usually ¾ cup clam juice and ¼ cup milk or cream
- 1½ cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Salt to taste start with ½ teaspoon
- ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning more or less to taste
- 1 cup chopped or ground clams
- Gather your ingredients and tools.
- In your measuring cup, whisk together the egg, oil or butter and liquids.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Whisk in the liquids and fold in the clams. The batter should be thick…like a thick muffin or cake batter.
- Preheat at least 2 inches of oil to 370 degrees. Drop tablespoons of the batter in the oil and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, turning with tongs.
- Drain on paper towels and taste the first fritter for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper to the batter if necessary.
- Continue to fry a few fritters at a time until done.
- Makes about 36 fritters.