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Recipe by Joe Magnanelli, executive chef, Laurel Restaurant.

I’m a self-taught cook. I never went to culinary school, even though I worked at some very established restaurants, such as those in the Ritz-Carlton and the St. Regis in Washington, DC. I cooked with my mom as a kid and the first job I ever had was at a Little Caesars in high school. When I was in college, I would sit in class and think about going to work and cooking. So I left and decided to cook full time with Capital Restaurant Concepts, an exclusive group of restaurants in DC. After two years at Chive Restaurant in San Diego, I am the head chef at Laurel.

My girlfriend is an awesome cook — she went to culinary school — and she does most of the food at home. If we cook together, we do a lot of farmers’ market–driven food. We just had a bunch of friends over and made a big pan of mussels and clams and spicy sausage all steamed up. It’s a great dish to do at home because it’s fairly inexpensive. After the farmers’ market we went to Point Loma Seafood and picked everything up. All of our friends love coming over because we really do it up right.

Serves 10

5 pounds fresh Carlsbad mussels
5 pounds fresh Manila clams
1 handful corn meal
3 pounds fresh squid
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 pounds hard wine-cured sausage (diced by 1/5 inch)
10 peeled garlic cloves (divided use)
5 large shallots (peeled and minced)
2 cups white wine
1 bunch fresh basil, torn into leaves (stems discarded)
1/2 lb butter (2 sticks, divided use)
2 French baguettes
salt and pepper to taste


First clean the mussels by scrubbing off the beard. Clean the clams by soaking them in a bowl of cold water with corn meal for a half hour, and clean the squid by separating the tubes from the tentacles, discarding the ink sack, innards, and the central quill of cartilage that runs through the tube.

Preheat oven to 350–400. Oil and heat a large paellera (paella pan) or fry pan over medium-high heat. When the pan starts to smoke, add the diced sausage and cook until slightly crisp on the edges. Then add 7 of the garlic cloves and all of the shallots until they just start to sweat down, watching carefully so they don’t burn. Add in the mussels and clams, cover and cook for 2 minutes. Next, add the white wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up all of the brown bits. Then add the squid and whole basil leaves. Cover and cook for another 2 minutes or until the clams and mussels have opened. When shellfish are opened, add half the butter (1 stick). When melted, taste the broth, season with salt and pepper to your taste.

Meanwhile, cut the French baguette horizontally, lengthwise, and place cut side up on a baking sheet. Rub with the remaining stick of butter and 3 cloves of garlic and toast in a preheated oven until desired brownness. Use this toasty goodness to soak up all the delicious broth!! Enjoy with friends and a nice glass of chilled, unoaked Chardonnay.

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