Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Clams with Garlic-Herb Butter

Broiled clams on the half-shell with a savory, sprightly herb-butter topping! A great appetizer.

What I like about this recipe is that it does not use two ingredients usually associated with baked clams: bread crumbs and bacon. The first time I made it, I spied one of my guests licking the shell! Yes, it's that good. Use the more tender Little Neck clams and be sure to mince the herbs very, very fine. (I have an old French Mouli vegetable grinder that does a great job.) The entire recipe can all be done a day ahead and refrigerated.

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Pinch of Kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons, unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Pinch of Cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon finely-minced, fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon finely-minced, fresh rosemary
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh curly parsley
  • 20 Little Neck clams, scrubbed
  • Ice Cream Salt

  • Optional Garnish:
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Lemon wedges

Chop the garlic. Sprinkle the salt over the garlic and continue to chop it. Now, smash and smear the garlic with the flat side of your knife, pulling towards you, until a paste forms. This is best done with a broad-bladed knife. (Or smash in a mortar and pestle.)

In a small bowl, place the garlic paste, finely-minced thyme and rosemary, 2 1/2 tablespoons minced parsley, butter, pepper and lemon juice. Mash together with a fork.

Line a cookie sheet with the ice cream salt. This will stabilize the clams to prevent them from tipping and losing their valuable juice.

Shuck the clams. Place each clam on the deeper half shell making sure you cut the muscle that cleaves it to the shell. Press about one teaspoon of the flavored butter onto the clam. Refrigerate until ready to cook.

Heat the broiler. Broil just until the butter is melted and sizzling and clam is cooked through, about 3-5 minutes. If desired, sprinkle with parsley.

To serve: Put yet more ice cream salt on a large platter and carefully place clams on top. Guests may remove what they want. I generally put about 4-5 on a plate with lemon wedge and a crusty piece of bread.


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