Steamed Clams in a Beer, Lemon and Garlic Broth REDUX


I’m heading to Martha’s Vineyard on Saturday (for three weeks, yippee!!!) and while my hopes are that I’ll be actively posting about on-island goodies while there, the reality is that it may not happen as often as I’d like. I’m also going to be packing a lot this week and pretty tied up… so I decided it might be nice to share some of my more popular posts from over the years.

Firsts up is Little Neck Clams in a Beer, Lemon and Garlic Broth. According to the website wisegeek.org:

Littleneck clams are members of the Veneridae family, a large family of mollusks that includes many commercially valuable species. “Littleneck” is not a taxonomic classification, and people use it in varying ways in different parts of the world to refer to several different clam species. This can be both confusing and irritating, although most clams referred to with this name share a number of characteristics that make them very similar on the table, although they are found in different regions of the world.

These clams are bivalve mollusks, meaning that they have a two part shell with a more or less symmetrical top and bottom. They are also roughly circular in shape, in contrast with more oblong edible mollusks like soft-shell clams. The shell is usually ridged, sometimes quite deeply, and it is pale gray to green in color. The inside houses the soft body of the clam, which is surrounded by watery blood, as clams and other mollusks have an open circulatory system.

People have eaten various mollusks for centuries, both raw and cooked and in a wide range of recipes. In the case of littleneck clams, people burrow for the shells in intertidal zones or estuaries, where the mollusks bury themselves in deep sand and mud, filtering tidal waters for nutrients and necessary oxygen. Clams can be steamed, fried, boiled, sauteed, or roasted as part of a stuffing in a larger animal like a turkey.

This post was originally published in August 2010… but continues to be one of the most searched for and viewed posts. It’s a great recipe for the summer and seems like the perfect way to kick off my vacation. In fact, I may even go buy some and make this recipe this week!

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I went to the Dedham Farmer’s Market on Wednesday looking for some fruit. I left without fruit… but I came home with 2 dozen little neck clams and 2 pounds of mussels that I bought off a seafood truck manned by Jordan Brother’s Seafood, from Stoughton, MA.

I love that you can buy grass fed meats, local honey and cheeses and even fresh seafood at farmer’s markets now. The products are as fresh as fresh can be. Plus, you’re supporting the local business man and eating local… reducing greenhouse gas emissions and decreasing your carbon footprint. Perfect!

I hadn’t had steamers in YEARS. They are really popular in NJ where I grew up, but I don’t see them as much around here. Then, a month or two ago, I had some in Portland, OR while I was visiting friends and then again at a local restaurant here. I have been craving them ever since. I tried to remember how to cook them, but honestly don’t think I’ve ever steamed clams before! I’m sure I have… but not for a very, very, long time.

I decided a beer bath would be good. I checked the fridge and was happy to see I had a large variety to choose from. I found the perfect one… Sam Adam’s Summer Ale — a wheat beer with a hint of lemon zest. I winged the rest…

Steamed Little Clams in a Beer, Lemon and Garlic Broth

2 pounds little neck clams (or other small clam)
1 bottle beer (I used Sam Adams Summer Ale)
2 large cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 lemon, sliced into wedges
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
Fresh ground pepper and salt to taste

Into a large pot, pour beer and add lemon wedges, butter, Old Bay, Salt/Pepper and smashed garlic. Bring to slow boil over medium heat.

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Once boiling, add clams, turn up heat to medium-high (I do this for ethical reasons… get it over and done with fast!) and cover.

As the clams begin to cook the shells will open. Clams are done when all the shells are opened wide. If any clams do not open with the others, discard them… this means they are bad.

I served the clams just as is… with a bunch of the “broth” in a bowl (for dipping — no additional butter needed).

FABULOUS… Sweet, briny, buttery, goodness.

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Of course I had to include a little bread for sopping up the juices. WAY too good to leave behind…

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