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Steamed Clams with Italian-Style Garlic Toast

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The Secret to the Best Steamed Clams

Steamed clams | Something New For Dinner I'm a big fan of steamed clams, especially when served with some toasted garlic bread. The key to great steamed clams is a delicious broth -- a broth you want to slurp up with a spoon and dunk your garlic bread into. Most steamed clam broth is made with wine, lemon juice, water, butter and sometimes clam juice. To make a slurp-worthy broth you need finely minced shallots, plenty of garlic, some crushed red pepper flakes, wine, lemon juice, butter and wait for it....chicken broth and a splash of cream.

Why Chicken Broth for Steamed Clams?

I know I have lost a few traditionalists when I say cook your clams in chicken broth. I understand your trepidation, but before you reject the idea I urge you to give it a try. Chicken broth is what makes my Rhode Island-Style Clam Chowder so delicious, but believe me, if you read the recipe comments, you will see I took some heat for using chicken broth there too.

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The reason I use chicken broth is it is loaded with umami and brings out the richness of the clams. My favorite store-bought chicken broth is Zoup. Zoup is very flavorful and not loaded with extra additives.
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Additional Broth Ingredients

Finely minced shallots give the broth texture and flavor. Red chili flakes give it some kick and a hearty splash of cream gives the broth richness and depth. The final result is a broth that you will dunk your garlic toast in and finish to the last drop, long after you have eaten the last clam.

Italian-Style Garlic Toast

Steamed clams | Something New For Dinner Garlic bread made by saturating bread in butter, garlic and cheese is an American creation. It is utterly delicious, but also rich and heavy, so much so that it can distract from the main event. In Italy you will not find the American version of garlic bread. Instead, Italians toast their bread and finish it by rubbing the bread with a fresh clove of garlic and maybe a bit of olive oil. You will find this Italian-style garlic toast to be a lighter, but flavorful alternative to American-style garlic bread. And it just so happens to be wonderful dipped in the steamed clam broth.

Prepping Your Clams

Steamed clams | Something New For Dinner Buy your clams as fresh as possible and store them properly. Keep them alive in your fridge on a tray covered with a damp cloth. Never cover them in water until you are ready to cook them. When you are ready to cook your clams, soak them in a bowl of salt water for 20 minutes to an hour. The clams will purge themselves of sand and grit. Lift the clams out of the bowl, leaving the sand behind. Give each clam a good scrub with a brush and rinse. They are now ready to go in the pot.

Eat Only the Clams That Open When Steamed

Once your clams are steamed discard any clams that have not opened. These clams were dead before you steamed them and can make you ill. Print

Steamed Clams with Italian-Style Garlic Toast

These steamed clams are prepared in a slurp-worthy broth and served with crunchy Italian-style garlic toast.

  • Author: Kim Pawell
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x
  • Category: Seafood
  • Cuisine: Traditional American

Ingredients

Scale

For the clams:

  • 3 1/2 pounds of fresh, live clams
  • Sea salt
  • 4 T butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup shallots, minced (approximately 1 large shallot)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/4 cup chicken broth (I like Zoup)
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 3 T cream or more to desired richness
  • A handful of parsley, chopped

For the garlic toast: 

  • 4 slices sourdough or other bakery bread
  • Olive oil
  • 1 peeled garlic clove

Instructions

For the clams:

  1. Prepare a bowl full of salted water using 4 t of sea salt per quart of water, stirring to dissolve. You will need 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of salted water for 3 1/2 pounds of clams. Add the clams, making sure they are fully covered in the water and allow to sit 20 minutes to an hour. Lift the clams out of the water, leaving the expelled sand in the bowl. Scrub each clam and give them one final rinse before preparing.
  2. Heat a broad-bottomed pot, such as a large Dutch oven, add 2 T butter and melt over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for about 5 minutes until softened and just starting to color.
  3. Add wine and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add clams, return to a boil and then reduce to medium heat. Cover and let cook for 7 – 8  minutes, until all the clams are open. Add lemon juice and remaining 2 T of butter, stirring to melt. Take off the heat and stir in cream. Divide the clams into two serving bowls and ladle the broth over the clams, sprinkle with parsley and serve with garlic toasts.

For the garlic toast:

  1. While the clams are steaming heat the oven to broil. Spread the bread out on a sheet pan and brush the bread with olive oil. Put in the oven for 2 – 3 minutes, taking care that it does not burn. When toasted on one side, remove from the oven, flip and return to the oven for another minute or two so that both sides are toasted. Remove from the oven and rub each slice with a raw garlic clove while the toast is still hot. Serve with the steamed clams.

Keywords: clams, steamed, garlic, bread, italian, seafood

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