Serve clam, tomato and ba­con stew with grilled gar­lic bread

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - NEWS - By Sara Moulton

Cooked hard-shell clams are an un­beat­able two-forthe-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 fla­vor. 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 5 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 4 pounds of th­ese crit­ters. Method-wise, pro­ceed as with the clams, re­mov­ing each mus­sel as it opens.

Clam or mus­sel, this sea crea­ture must be well cleaned be­fore it’s steamed. Start by fill­ing a large bowl with cold water. Add the mol­lusks and swirl them around, then lift them out of the bowl. Dump out the sand on the bot­tom of the bowl, re­fill the bowl with clean water and re­peat the pro­ce­dure un­til the bathed clams leave no sand.

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. Like­wise, folks who aren’t into al­co­hol can sub­sti­tute water for the wine. Fi­nally, those who dis­like basil can use cilantro in­stead.

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

INGREDIENTS

¼ cup ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil 1cup chopped Cana­dian ba­con

1cup sliced white part of scal­lions and ½ cup sliced green part of scal­lions 1cup medium chopped green bell pep­per 2tea­spoons minced gar­lic 2cups medium chopped ripe toma­toes

1cup dry white wine 4dozen cher­ry­stone clams, cleaned well

½ cup packed basil leaves, coarsely chopped Grilled gar­lic bread (recipe fol­lows)

IN­STRUC­TIONS

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 5min­utes. Add the gar­lic and cook for 1minute. Add the toma­toes and cook, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, for 5 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 un­til just hot. Stir in the basil and scal­lion greens.

To serve: Put 2pieces of the grilled bread into each of 6soup plates and spoon one-sixth of the clam mix­ture on top.

GRILLED GAR­LIC BREAD INGREDIENTS

6(½-inch thick) slices coun­try bread Ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil for brush­ing the bread 1gar­lic clove, halved

IN­STRUC­TIONS

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 2min­utes 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.

SARA MOULTON VIA AP

Clam, tomato and ba­con stew with grilled gar­lic bread.

SARA MOULTON VIA AP

Clam, tomato and ba­con stew with grilled gar­lic bread.

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