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Steamed clams with white wine & extras

September 12, 2010

Clams with white wine, bacon, fennel seed, tomato & herbs

This is a pretty simple way to make clams that can feed different numbers of people. The most important thing about cooking clams is that you get fresh live clams and clean them very well. Rinse them thoroughly under cool tap water when you get them home and store them in clean water with a bit of salt in it. The water should be changed every day if you plan on keeping them, but the clams should be eaten as close to the purchase date as possible. If you sprinkle the cleaned clams in the salt water with oats or corn meal a few hours before you eat them they will feed on the grain and they’ll spit out any grit they’re hanging on to. The clams I made for the pictures included:

–       Garlic (crushed)

–       Bacon (chopped)

–       Chili flake

–      Dry White wine

–       Fresh herbs (chopped)

–       Fresh Tomato (chopped) optional

With the exception of the white wine, any of these ingredients can be changed or left out to suit your taste. It doesn’t matter what kind of wine that you use, different wines will give slightly different flavors but will generally have the same effect. Chopped onions are a good addition or alternative to the bacon. You probably won’t need to add salt to the dish because clams have salt water coursing through them. A good portion of clams is about 3/4 lb. Per person.

To start, chop your bacon and sautée on a medium heat with a whole clove of garlic, crushed not chopped. Stir occasionally. When the bacon or onions begin to turn golden brown, you can add a pinch of chili flake and the white wine, just enough wine to cover the bacon and garlic. Drain the clams and rinse off any dirt or oats if you used them. When the wine begins to boil, add the clams and put a secure lid on the pot. Different types of clams have different thickness of shells, so how long they take to cook depends on what type of clams you use. Usually anywhere between 2 and 6 minutes. Give them a shake and a stir periodically, but don’t leave the lid off too long or they won’t get steamed. They should begin to open wide. If a clam doesn’t open all the way you can use a pair of tongs to give it a push, but it is very important not to force open a closed clam. If it does not open, it was dead when it went into the pot and has potential to make you sick. If you’re not sure, toss it. Once all the clams that will open have, you can turn off the heat and stir in the herbs and tomatoes. You can use any kind of soft herb you like. I usually do a mix of whatever I have. Parsley, basil, mint and chives are all good choices. I only do this dish with tomato in late summer when fresh tomatoes are abundant. The dish is wonderful without tomatoes too. Serve them in a big bowl with an extra bowl for shells and thick slices of good toast. Everybody wins with a bowl of clams. They’re a piece of cake.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Denise permalink
    August 11, 2011 1:45 pm

    I’m thinking about cooking Linguine with clams tonight and it’s something that I’ve never tried to cook. I ate it and liked it so I decided to do it on my own. Thanks alot for the tips!

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