Saturday, December 10, 2005

Portuguese Steamed Clams

Portuguese Steamed Clams
Originally uploaded by Gary Paradise.

The number of recipes of Portuguese origin that feature both clams and some form of pork are extremely numerous. Over the years, I've sampled several versions in restaurants and prepared three other versions. The one pictured, for which a recipe follows, is in my opinion the most delicious and certainly one of the easiest to prepare. It is inspired by a recipe that appeared in Gourmet Magazine in 1988. My only change was to specify capicola ham for the "boiled ham" and to call for 36 littlenecks or 18 cherrystones as opposed to the 18 small hard shelled clams called for in Gourmet.

1/4 cup finely chopped shallots

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup dry red wine

1/2 red bell pepper pepper, chopped fine

36 littleneck clams or 18 cherrystones, scrubbed

5 teaspoons (or 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons) fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup finely chopped coriander leaves

In a kettle, cook the ham, the shallot, the garlic, and the red pepper flakes in the oil over moderately low heat, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the wine, the bell pepper, and the clams. Steam the mixture, covered, for 5 minutes, or until the clams begin to open. Transfer the clams as they open with tongs to 2 heated bowls, cover the bowls lightly, and continue to steam the unopened clams, shaking the kettle and transferring the clams as they open for up to 10 minutes more. Remove the kettle from the heat, stir the lemon juice and the coriander into the broth, and pour the broth over the clams.