Steamer clams open up goodness
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.