I’m not sure how tomorrow is already Thursday, but I’m glad it is. Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary! We’ll have a lovely day, a lunch date and dinner at home tomorrow, and then this weekend we will continue our tradition of getting our anniversary dinner at Lincoln, our very favorite place in Portland. I can’t wait.
If we hadn’t made these beer-simmered clams just a week ago, they would make a pretty great candidate for tomorrow’s special occasion dinner. Clams feel super fancy to me, even though they were so easy to make. It was actually the very first time we made them at home! But it won’t be the last.
The only tough part was that when we brought them home, they were still alive. It freaked me out a little bit! You have to let them filter their system in a big pot of water for a couple of hours before cooking, and when you do that they will stick a (lung? leg? esophagus? some kind of piece) out of the shell, I assume to breathe. If you poke them, they will pull it right back in! It was a tiny bit creepy, but I got over it when they were so delicious.
Besides the 2 hours of sitting in water, this entire recipe takes about 20 minutes to make. I definitely recommend giving it a shot the next time you want a fun and unusual home dinner with not a lot of work.
2 lbs. clams
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 small head fennel, sliced thinly
1/2 medium white onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup beer
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
At least 2 hours before you intend to eat, fill a large pot with 2-3 quarts of water and place the clams in the pot. Allow them to sit (on the counter, not the stove) for at least 2 hours. This will allow them to filter all the gunk out of their systems.
After 2 hours, begin with a large skillet on medium heat. Cook the bacon in the skillet until its fat begins to render out, then add and saute the fennel, onion and garlic until just softened. Add 1 cup of beer and bring to a simmer.
As the beer comes to a simmer, drain the clams and keep an eye out for any that appear to be dead. The live ones will stick a little piece out of the shell to breathe in the water, and if you poke them, they will pull it right back into the shell.
Place the live clams in the simmering beer and cover. Simmer for about ten minutes, or until all the shells open up.
Serve the clams in lots of broth and with lots of bread. Season liberally with salt, pepper and chopped parsley.