"I am lucky to have a friend who is a professional fisherwoman, so I get bags of shellfish for the best possible price. Gloria likes littleneck clams, but I prefer the larger top neck or cherrystone clams. Occasionally I use the large quahog clams in pasta or soup.
"I open clams with a paring knife, which can be difficult and dangerous; a good alternative is to put the clams on a baking sheet and place them in a 350-degree oven. After 7 or 8 minutes, they will pop slightly open but will still be completely raw. Then it is easy to slide a knife inside, sever the adductor muscle, and open the clams. (Another way to open clams is to place them in the freezer on a baking sheet for 20 to 30 minutes. They will not be frozen inside, but it will be easier to slide the knife between the shells.)
"After chilling the clams in the refrigerator, we often enjoy them cold on the half-shell with horseradish sauce or fresh lemon juice. Other times, we eat them lukewarm with pesto or garlic butter or, as in this recipe, scallions and balsamic vinegar." --Jacques Pépin
Recipe: Top Neck Clams with Vinegar and Scallion Sauce
Serves 4 as a First Course
- 24 top neck or cherrystone clams, washed
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup minced scallions
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Minced fresh chives (optional)
- Buttered black bread, for Serving
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Arrange the clams in one layer on an aluminum foil–lined baking sheet and place in the oven for about 8 minutes, or just until they open. Remove from the oven and let cool for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Slide your knife inside each clam and sever the muscle connecting it to the shell. Remove the top shell, being careful to save the juice, leaving the clam in the other half shell. Arrange on a platter.
- Heat the butter and oil in a small skillet. Add the scallions and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the butter starts browning lightly and the scallions soften. Add the vinegar and cook for 10 to 20 seconds.
- Divide the mixture among the open clams, still lukewarm from the oven, and sprinkle the pepper on top. Garnish with chives, if using. Enjoy with buttered black bread.
Recipe from Heart & Soul in the Kitchen by Jacques Pépin. Copyright © 2015 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.