Some of the greatest meals come from spotting a single ingredient.
I wasn't quite sure what I was going to make for dinner Sunday night and headed to my local fish market for some inspiration. When I walked through the door and saw that they had cockles, the age old question "What's for dinner?" was instantly answered. Happening upon a fresh delivery of cockles is like being a small child on Christmas morning who has just seen the mountain of gifts beneath the tree. The excitement and the anticipation of enjoying each and every one of these savory little creatures is one of life's simple pleasures that I look forward to each summer.
After a quick stop at the butcher for some sweet sausages, I headed home and ordered the husband to fire up the charcoal. I remembered a perfect recipe for Spicy Steamed Clams I once saw from Williams Sonoma. After some quick Internet searching, I baked a loaf of garlic bread for sopping up all the excess sauce. This meal was a mind blower and will no doubt be on heavy rotation this summer.
Spicy Steamed Clams
from Williams Sonoma.com
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1 yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes - I used a dash to control the heat
Salt, to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (16 oz) whole plum tomatoes, with juice - I buy Pomo tomatoes in the carton (better than canned) and used the Chopped tomato one
1 cup dry white wine
2-3 lb. small clams, such as littleneck or Manila, scrubbed - I used just over a pound of cockles
1/2 cup slivered fresh basil
*I cooked the entire meal in a cast iron pan on my charcoal grill but otherwise followed the recipe exactly*
In a stockpot over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the onion and red pepper flakes, season with salt and saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and their juice and cook, stirring, to blend the flavors, for 2 minutes more.
Increase the heat to high and stir in the wine. Add the clams, discarding any that do not close to the touch. Cover and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the clams open, 4 to 5 minutes. Discard any empty shells or unopened clams. Divide the clams among serving bowls, top with the broth, sprinkle with the basil and serve immediately. Serves 4.