The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - SARA MOULTON

Cooked hard-shell clams are an un­beat­able two-for-the price-of-one de­light.

You get the clams them­selves and the clam liq­uid they give off as they cook, which cre­ates an in­stant sauce with as­ton­ish­ing depth of flavour. And it’s sim­ple. You just com­bine the clams with some liq­uid (and aro­mat­ics, if you want — here I’ve added scal­lions, gar­lic and toma­toes), cover them and let them steam un­til the shells open.

The only tricky part is that all clams don’t cook at the same pace. The first spec­i­men might open af­ter just five min­utes while the last one lux­u­ri­ates for three times as long.

If you al­low that first clam to hang out un­til the last clam opens, it’ll end up rub­bery. Ac­cord­ingly, it takes a tough cook to make a ten­der clam.

Check the steam­ing clams fre­quently and pull each one out of the pot the sec­ond its shell opens.

This very same recipe also works us­ing a dif­fer­ent kind of bi­valve mol­lusk, namely mus­sels. You’ll need about four pounds of th­ese crit­ters. Method-wise, pro­ceed as with the clams, re­mov­ing each mus­sel as it opens.

Canadian ba­con adds some meat and smoke to the fin­ished dish. (Also, it’s leaner than tra­di­tional ba­con.) Of course, the pescatar­i­ans among us are wel­come to leave out the ba­con.

But please don’t skip the gar­lic bread. It’s easy to make and key to the recipe. And there’s no bet­ter way to sop up all that lus­cious clam broth.

Clam To­mato and Ba­con Stew with Grilled Gar­lic Bread


¼ cup ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil 1 cup chopped Canadian ba­con 1 cup sliced white part of scal­lions and ½ cup sliced green part of scal­lions 1 cup medium chopped green bell pep­per 2 tea­spoons minced gar­lic 2 cups medium chopped ripe toma­toes 1 cup dry white wine 4 dozen cher­ry­stone clams, cleaned well ½ cup packed basil leaves, coarsely chopped 1 recipe Grilled Gar­lic Bread (recipe be­low)

Start to fin­ish: One hour In a large saucepan or Dutch oven large enough to hold all the clams, heat the oil over medium-high heat, add the ba­con, re­duce the heat to medium and cook, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, un­til the ba­con starts to brown around the edges. Add the sliced white part of scal­lions and the bell pep­per. Cook, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, for five min­utes.

Add the gar­lic and cook for one minute. Add the toma­toes and cook, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, for five min­utes. Add the white wine and the clams, cover the pot and steam, trans­fer­ring the clams as they open to a bowl. Dis­card any clams that do not open.

Re­move all the clams from their shells and re­turn them to the pot with the to­mato mix­ture. Re­heat over medium-low heat un­til just hot. Stir in the basil and scal­lion greens.

To serve: Put two pieces of the grilled bread into each of six soup plates and spoon one-sixth of the clam mix­ture on top.

Grilled Gar­lic Bread

6 (1/2-inch thick) slices coun­try bread Ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil for brush­ing the bread 1 gar­lic clove, halved

Pre­heat a grill or grill pan over medium heat. Brush both sides of the bread slices with the oil. Add the bread to the pre­heated grill and grill un­til it’s nicely marked and crispy on both sides (about 2 min­utes a side). Re­move the bread from the grill and while it’s still hot, rub one side of each slice with the cut side of the gar­lic.

Per serv­ing: 393 calo­ries (145 from fat); 16 grams fat (2 g sat­u­rated; 0 g trans fats); 75 mil­ligrams choles­terol; 1,020 mg sodium; 33 g car­bo­hy­drate; 4 g fi­bre; 4 g sugar; 21 g pro­tein.


The only tricky part is that all clams don’t cook at the same pace.

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