RECIPE: Grilled Littleneck Clams in an Herb, Caper, and Butter Sauce

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For more information on sourcing fresh local fish, and more recipes, check out “Wild Caught.”

Serves: 2 to 4

Local clams dug from Martha’s Vineyard water sources are available year-round. Littlenecks are the smallest clams; next in size are cherrystones, and then quahogs or chowder clams. It helps local fishermen to buy all three sizes! This recipe by cookbook author Vanessa Seder is great as a first course, appetizer with drinks, or a simple dinner. In addition to developing recipes for Maine seafood producers, Vanessa is the author of Eat Cool and Secret Sauces.

24 littleneck clams, approximately 2 to 4 pounds 

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped 

¼ cup dry white wine

2 Tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

2 Tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped

1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped 

1 Tablespoon capers in brine, drained but not rinsed

¼ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Freshly ground black pepper

Grilled sliced sourdough bread, for serving

1. Scrub and rinse the clams. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

2. Cover a serving platter in rock salt and set aside. The salt prevents the clams from shifting on the platter when served. 

 3. In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant and the shallot has become translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook until the alcohol subsides and is reduced by half, 2 to 4 minutes.

4. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in the parsley, oregano, thyme, and capers. Whisk in the butter a bit at a time until just melted and incorporated, and season to taste with pepper. Keep the sauce warm until ready to serve. 

5. Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium heat. Place the clams directly on the grill. Cover and cook the clams without turning them. As soon as the clams pop open, about 8 to 10 minutes, transfer them carefully with tongs to the platter with the rock salt. Use the tongs to pry off the top shells. Spoon some of the sauce over each clam and serve with the grilled bread. Serve immediately.

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