Steamer clams open up goodness

This is the beginning of broth for steamer clams. Note the unsalted butter that's melting, the garlic and not enough minced shallots. That's why the IO used green onions.

This is the beginning of broth for steamer clams. Note the unsalted butter that’s melting, the minced garlic and not enough shallots. That’s why the IO substituted green onions.

Steamer clams, green salad and french bread for dipping in the clam broth on an everyday meal at the Cleavelands.

Steamer clams, green salad and french bread for dipping in the clam broth makes an easy meal at the Cleavelands.

Manilla clams, it’s your turn in the spotlight. You star as an appetizer or a main dish, and the next day, the broth can be used to make clam sauce for spaghetti. Even better, if you make the clam sauce and have a batch of Marinara hanging around, you’ll score a double whammy for a weeknight dinner: one batch of spaghetti, two sauces of contrasting color, texture and taste.

I usually buy about 3-1/2 or 4 pounds at Newman’s Fish Co. in Northwest Portland, and accompany the clams with green salad, french bread for dipping in the broth and a light dessert.

Steamer clams in broth

Wash the clams carefully and thoroughly in cold water, making sure any debris, sand or dirt is gone. I use a big strainer that has expanding handles to bridge the sides of my sink.

In a deep stock pot (you need a capacity of about one quart per pound of clams), melt about 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Add a finely minced shallot and two cloves of minced garlic. Let them brown a little, and then add about 1/2 cup of dry white wine. Then add the clams, cover them and let them steam until they open, about 5 minutes. Discard any that don’t open.

Place the clams in a large bowl, then simmer the stock for a couple of minutes, reducing it slightly. Add Italian parsley, not only for flavor, but also for a contrast of color in the broth. (The Intrepid One is big on color contrast in cooking, if you’ve noticed.) Return the clams to the pot and serve.

In all honestly, if no one is sharing the meal with us, I serve them in the pot, as you see in the photo. If I have guests, I put them in an Italian pottery bowl and serve the broth on the side. And one more thing: I never add salt. When the clams give up their juice, the result is plenty salty. If you noticed, I used unsalted butter. It may seem like a small point when you’re eating the clams and having only a little broth, but if you use some of the stock later for spaghetti sauce, you won’t want the extra sodium.





Janet Cleaveland

Janet Cleaveland

What happens when a retired journalist spends a lot more time in the kitchen than in past years? She tries new dishes and jumps at the chance to write a blog about food, family and good times. My kids are grown now, but I'll be looking back at how they learned to cook, what recipes my husband (the Intrepid One) and I are experimenting with, and how food and conversation make for happy times in the kitchen. I worked for The Columbian for 15 years as a copy editor and another 10 elsewhere, though I didn't start out as a journalist. I thought I wanted to teach English literature. My husband grew up in Clark County, and I've lived here since 1983. My kids have grown and left home. Like my husband of 52 years, our adopted chocolate Lab would never pass up a chance for a tasty meal.

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