Steamed clams are a major Rodale family tradition. And it can't be any old butter. It's got to be browned butter! Long before I was born, my grandparents had a clambake for their employees every summer. And I grew up anticipating the yearly treat of a bunch of clams in a net sack, steamed and ready to be dipped. Oh, there were some good times at those clambakes. We even had a jukebox delivered for the party in the early days of my youth. But I digress. We no longer have a company picnic (and stopped serving clams when the price tag went into the six figures!). But the whole Rodale family gets together every summer and, yes, clams must be served.
We love them so much in my family that they're not just a once-a-summer treat. My littlest can eat a few dozen! And I can easily eat four dozen. In fact, I just did. But they were little ones--the ones in the picture, actually. And that dish of browned butter? That's the same dish my mother used to serve browned butter in when I was a kid.
Clams are one of those things that are better not to look at too closely, or chew up too much. But coated in browned butter, it's a taste of summer heaven and so easy to make!
Steamed Clams with Browned Butter
1. Buy a bag or two of clams at the supermarket--I prefer the little cherrystone clams. (I have yet to learn how to clam, but it's on a list somewhere of things to attempt!) Rinse them off in the sink. Throw away any that have cracked shells.
2. Fill a giant pot with a few inches of water and add the clams. The clams do not need to be covered in water! Turn the water on to boil.
3. When the water is boiling, put some butter in a saucepan to melt and brown. You will see the melted butter go from yellow to golden. Turn off the heat and let it stay warm until the clams are done.
4. The clams will be ready in an instant. They do not take long. When they are open they are ready!
5. I've been known just to put the big vat of hot water with clams right on the table; we all just pick them out with tongs and eat until they are gone. This doesn't take longer than five minutes.
When you are done, the clamshells can go on the compost pile! They add a good dose of calcium to your soil, which is especially important for tomatoes! (The extra calcium helps ward off blossom end rot!) Or you can put them on a gravel driveway, drive over them, and make yours one of those New England beach shell driveways. :)
For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com