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Surf and turf


Whether you fancy sausages or clams, both afford delicious outdoor eating.

Greg Elwell May 16th, 2012

This is a time of great pride in Oklahoma City.

Lush lawns beckon us into the backyard to frolic with our friends.

And it’ll last a few more weeks, before the sun god Ra turns angry and vengeful and it feels like we’re swimming in the humidity equivalent of a lake of fire.

All the more reason, then, to get out and enjoy these pre-brimstone days of May and June. And is there any better way to bring us all together than a feast?

Whether you’re planning to chow down on clams or enjoy a big, meaty sausage-fest, Oklahoma City has exactly what you need for the perfect summer shindig.


The clambake

If your proclivities tend toward seafood, why not take advantage of this beautiful weather and host a clambake?

(Actually, I know why. Clams aren’t native to Oklahoma. But we’ll take care of that.)

If you’re in a pinch and need to put this together quickly, the best spot for you is Super Cao Nguyen, 2668 N. Military. This Asian grocer carries lots of fresh fish — many still swimming around in tanks for your amusement — including littleneck clams. They also carry just about everything. You may forget all about doing a clambake once you’re in there.

But littlenecks, while a fine and tasty clam, are not the “traditional” clambake pick. As you’re probably not doing this the “traditional” way, on a New England beach, it may not matter to you. If it does, you’ll need someone to get you medium-to-large steamers — a kind of soft-shell clams — or some hard-shelled clams called “quahogs.”

J.R. Armstrong, manager at Avalon Seafood, 7712 N. May, said that while his shop doesn’t have clams on hand, he can order them with a few days notice. The store also carries lobster tails, another clambake favorite.

You’ll want about a dozen clams per guest. And since we’re in Oklahoma, where some people say, “Oh, I don’t eat fish,” when presented with salmon, maybe have a little something different, just in case. Most clambakes include potatoes, corn and sausage (if you swing that way).

 

The sausage-fest

Maybe you’re not much for clams. Who can blame you? It’s not like you chose to find clams distasteful. You were born this way.

But you still have to eat, so don’t let that backyard grill go to waste. Time to dig into the sausage.

Not surprisingly, the selection of sausages is a bit more varied in Oklahoma. Maybe because we have access to more land animals.

A good starting spot is Sunflower Farmers Market, 6410 N. May. From beef and pork to chicken, turkey and soy, it has several sausage flavors and seasonings in both fresh and frozen forms.

But if you want local quality, and you want to be very, very local about it, you’re thinking of Schwab’s, 1111 Linwood. The place makes its own Polish sausage, hot links and andouille and has been doing it since 1912.

“The real difference is in the smoke. Lots of people steam their dogs, but we use real hickory smoke,” said sales manager Emily Schwab. “It’s a longer process, but we think it makes a better product.”

Anyone who’s eaten at Ingrid’s Kitchen, 3701 N. Youngs, has had the chance to taste another fine sausage, although these come from the exotic, faraway land of Tulsa. Siegi’s Sausage Factory makes a wide variety of tasty cased meats, including my favorite — the knackwurst, which includes finely ground beef and pork, fresh garlic and onion. Grill it and slap on some spicy brown mustard and that’s what I call a “party.”

Both Schwab’s and Siegi’s are quick to point out they don’t use any scraps in their sausages. Using real muscle meats is a little more expensive, but it also eliminates the worry that you’re eating the inside of a pig’s butt.

Schwab’s meats are available at grocery stores all across the state, but if you really want to do a sausage-fest up right and get a whole lot of meat, they sell it by the case at their downtown location. For Siegi’s, you could drive the hour and a half to Tulsa or just order online at siegis.com.

Whatever you choose, be it clam or sausage — or both, if you’re open-minded like that — be sure to do it soon. Ra will only tolerate your outdoor frivolity for so long. Once July comes around, all bets are off.

 
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