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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Spicy Steamed Clams with a Touch of Pesto

First, buy a bag of 50 clams and keep them on ice until ready to cook. I use whatever is available. Today it was Maine Ocean Clams. They are about the size of little necks. That's the size you want to shoot for.

Rinse each clam under cold water and place back on ice. Discard any clams with broken shells or open shells that won't close after tapping them against side of sink.

For this recipe, you will need:
50 clams
2 T pesto
4 T garlic
1/3 cup spicy olive oil (or more) (See spicy olive oil recipe)

Make a batch of pesto and set aside or defrost a couple of "ice" cubes of frozen pesto. View Caprese Napoleon post (August 8, 2007) for details.

In a large pot, preferably 12 qt, but 8 qt will do, pour in 1/3 c spicy olive oil and place over medium heat.

While oil is heating, finely chop 4 cloves of garlic.

Put 1/2 of the chopped garlic in pot with oil and saute until glassy, about 2 minutes.

Increase heat to high.

Add all 50 clams along with 1/4 cup of water or white wine and 1 T of pesto, give a little shake of the pot and then place lid on top of pot.

While clams are steaming, line a large funnel with paper towels and place over bowl or wide-mouth jar. A china hat works, too, but probably still needs to be lined with paper towels. The simplest way to do this would be to fold the paper towel corner to corner to create a triangle. Then fold the two corners on the longest side together to form a triangle with three equal sides. Separate one fold of paper from others to form a paper funnel and place inside funnel or china hat.

After about 5 minutes start looking at the clams. Once a large majority of clams are open, remove pot from heat.

Remove clams with a slotted spoon and place on previously heated platter.

Pour all broth in pan through lined funnel.

Pour strained broth back into pan and place pan back on burner at high heat and return to a boil.

Add 2T chopped garlic and 1 T of pesto to strained broth along with the 50 clams.

Give the pot a few good shakes and remove from heat.

Ladle clams and broth into individual bowls and serve with crusty Italian or French bread for mopping! Alternatively, you can put hot pasta in the bowls and ladle broth and clams on top of that.


The funnel business is all about removing the sand. And to remove that, you also remove all the garlic and evidence of pesto. That's why the same amounts are added back to the strained broth. If it's too garlicky for you, start with 1 T in the steaming and 1 T of garlic in the strained broth. Don't skimp on the pesto because it gives the broth a nice color.

This works well over pasta, but the broth is naturally real watery and best suited for mopping with good crusty bread. I also like to keep the bottle of spicy O.O. by my side. I usually add more to my broth after the fact and, of course, adding the oil to the pasta works, too. I'm not a big fan of serving bread with my pasta, but of course, do what you want. Try it both ways and see how you like it. I would love to hear about your results. Until next time.....Blaise

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