Sunday, July 10, 2011

Homecoming Clams

Well, the long-awaited-very-good-thing has happened! My husband finally arrived home from his sixth and final deployment a few days ago. We've just been relaxing together for the past few days, soaking in the lovely togetherness. Tonight, though, we were finally ready to actually cook dinner at home, one of our very favorite things to do together. We had both been craving mussels, so we moseyed over to the Fresh Market only to find they were sold out. There were, however, some very good-looking clams, and we decided to settle for those....we were not at all disappointed by them. So, I'll share with you one of my new favorite dishes, a recipe that evolved and became what I call "Homecoming Clams." Enjoy!

Homecoming Clams
(best enjoyed with jazz, white wine, and love)

24 (or whatever) Clams
1/2 cup Clamato (tomato/clam juice cocktail mix)
3/4 cup white wine
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 can Del Monte Olive Oil and Garlic Diced Tomatoes
1 tblsp olive oil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

First of all, a lot of people are pretty intimidated by cooking shellfish at home, I know I was the first time we decided to give it a try. The key to feeling comfortable is to make sure you clean the clams thoroughly. the rest is really quite simple. So, to start out scrub the clams one by one under running water with a stiff brush. Then place them in a combination of 16 cups of water and 1/3 cup salt and let them sit for 20 minutes. This allows the clams to release whatever sand and gunk they may be carrying around in themselves. Discard any clams that are already open or chipped (unless they close when you tap them). After the clams have soaked for 20 minutes, remove them (do not pour into strainer as this will allow sand to fall on top of them, defeating the purpose), rinse the container out and refill with the combination of 16 cups water and 1/3 cup salt and let them sit for another 15 minutes. After this second soak, remove the clams and scrub them again under running water.

Sometime during the second round of soaking would be a great time to gather your ingredients and get ready to start the cooking process. Mince the garlic, open the can of tomatoes, pour the wine and clamato, etc.

Ok, so to start off the cooking process, pour the olive oil into a large sauté pan and turn the heat to medium, sauté minced garlic until it is lightly golden (not burned!), turn heat to high and add the can of tomatoes, the white wine, clamato, and crushed red pepper flakes. When the ingredients have reached a boil, add the clams, making sure not to overcrowd (i.e. make sure they are not on top of each other, otherwise some may not open), cover and allow the clams to boil for another 4-7 minutes or until all clams have opened (discard any that do not). Carefully remove clams with slotted spoon, cover with foil to keep warm. Leave heat on high and allow the remain liquids to reduce (thicken slightly) for about seven minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste once or twice to test the broth, it should taste clammy and spicy and tomato-ey. If you prefer any extra seasoning, now would be the time to add it.

Once the broth is to your satisfaction, divide clams into dishes and pour or ladle the tomatoes and broth over the clams. Serve with toasted sourdough or french bread and white wine. Turn on the jazz, smile at the sweet love across from you and ENJOY!

If you have any questions, just leave them as a comment and I will try to answer them as best I can.

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