Hands down, my two favorite dishes to have when the weather starts to feel like summer are basil pesto and grilled clams. I could alternate these meals and eat them for days…I mean I would try, have tried…You could probably cook the clams in a cast iron skillet or in an oven, but there’s something about grilling, right? Nearly everyone has a fond childhood memory or two of eating corn, bbq chicken, ribs, or skewered veggies hot off the grill with friends and family nearby. Things can get messy, but the food always tastes great.
So when I was recently invited over to my friend Marin’s house to grill, I piped in, “I’ll bring the clams!” My exclamation was received positively with perhaps a little bit of doubt. Down here in Texas I’ve had some dreamy grilled meats, from falling off the bone ribs to buttery brisket, to hot links and perfectly seasoned burgers – but what I'm always thinking in the back of my my mind is...where's the grilled seafood. Spending summers out on the east end of Long Island I grew accustomed to a normal (constant) intake of super fresh summer seafood. Softshell crabs fried in butter (sigh), seared sweet bay scallops, salty oysters, big plump blackened shrimp, and stuffed clams. To be honest it pains me to reminisce…but I’ve traded one tradition for another. I wish I could bring the smoky salty brisket with a perfect bark back for my parents to experience.
Anyways, I’m getting off track and sort of hungry…The point is that I always want to grill clams when given the chance and was excited that I was going to share my simple recipe with a group of newbies. So where was I? Oh yes, last week I found myself at Marin’s – a true Kentucky lady at heart – urban farm. She has managed to turn her back yard into a little country oasis. With chickens waddling around, a sweet sweet dog name Bear soliciting butt scratches, and a kitty named Kitty sleeping through it all. I was immediately happy and at ease. There were raised garden beds and a made from scratch chicken coop – the only thing missing was, of course, the teepee that hadn’t been waterproofed yet. Herbs sat happy, young and fresh in assorted crates and old planters, the aloe was nearly exploding out of its container. I loved it all. Food is good enough on it own, but when enjoyed in such a perfect place, well let’s just say I was a happy camper. The clams went over spectacularly, claiming their rightful place next to the ribs and sliders.
Grilled Clams with Parsley Caper Butter PRINT RECIPE
[Prep: 5mins / Cook: 20 / TOTAL: 25mins
[*Serving size about 5 clams per person = 5 people]
Depending on what kind of grill you have you may want to start heating up the coals/turn on the gas so you won’t have to wait around for it to get nice and hot.
When you are ready to start prepping the meal take the clams out and fill a bowl with cold fresh water. Let them sit for 20 minutes. This will cause them to spit out any sand or grit that they have inside their shells. Most clams won't come covered in barnacles so they just need a good rinse with a firm brush right before they're cooked. [Does this sound familiar? Check out my Summertime Clam Pasta for more deets on cooking with clams:o)]
Peel and mince both the garlic and shallot. Rinse the parsley, drain the capers and mince both. Once all the prep is finished, melt the butter in small skillet over med high heat. Once the butter is bubbling lightly add the minced shallots and minced garlic, let sauté for about 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the ¼ cup white wine and let it cook off for 1 minute. Add the capers, parsley, salt, pepper and hot pepper flakes. Lower the heat and let simmer for 2-3 minutes before removing from the heat. Transfer to a small serving bowl.
If the grill is ready, then the throw the clams on. Spread them out so that they do not crowd each other and close the grill. After 5 minutes start checking for open clams. Make sure to have a serving platter ready next to the grill. As they open remove them from the heat right away. Some clams may take a little longer, just give them a tap or two and keep the grill closed as you wait.
The clams can be eaten right away – but watch out, they can be hot! Make sure to give each one a good splash of the parlsey caper butter sauce!
*This serving size is based on the clams being a starter or passed appetizer. They go fast so feel free to grill more, especially if they are the main course! The volume of parsley caper butter sauce will go far. I usually have a little leftover and will freeze it and use it as a starter for a seafood pasta sauce.
**I used little necks, but cherrystones – a bigger meatier kind – are really good on the grill.
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