Clam Pan Roast

By • April 21, 2011 • 9 Comments

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Author Notes: The pan roast, a model of ease, an emblem of the robust fare of old, is a favorite of mine. Most of the pan roasts I’ve had in my life have involved oysters, and fair enough, the oyster loves to be slathered in butter and laid upon a drift of toast. But it was time for the clam to get a chance at the pan roast.

James Beard’s pan roast calls for 3/4 cup of butter to poach the oysters. You are welcome to take that route, but be ready to lie prone on the sofa afterward. I opted, instead, to steam open the clams with just a slick of butter in the pan to mingle with the clam juices, and later added a shot of cream with paprika, herbs, and the seasoning pinch hitter, Worcestershire sauce.
Amanda Hesser

Serves 2 for lunch, 4 as a light first course

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 12 to 16 littleneck clams (or other small clam), scrubbed well
  • 1 scallion, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped flatleaf parsley
  • 4 to 8 toast points
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  1. Melt the butter in a sauté pan large enough to fit the clams in a single layer. Cover the pan and increase the heat to medium high. Cook just until the clams begin to open, 5 to10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the clams to a bowl. Discard any broken or unopened clams. Remove the clams from their shells and set aside.
  2. Set the pan over medium heat. Add the scallions to the pan and let wilt for 30 seconds while you add the paprika, Worcestershire sauce, and cream. Cook to desired consistency – I like my sauce loose. Toss in the thyme and parsley, and adjust seasoning as needed. Add the clams back to the pan, and heat through, spooning the sauce over them to help move things along.
  3. Serve, spooned over toast points, with a wedge of lemon on the side.

Tags: clams, cream, roast

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Comments (9) Questions (0)


almost 4 years ago Outsidepaddle

Love this dish. I am trying it with razor clams next. Nice, simple, flavorful.


almost 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Hadn't thought to try that variation -- great idea.


about 4 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Oh gosh, Amanda, take heart. In Montana I've saved this for the next time clams show up at the Cotsco Seafood Show. For good or for ill, that's as close as we get to fresh clams here. I grew up on the East Coast, then live for many years on the West Coast, in both of which fresh clams were practically a staple. Your idea is a road home, and thank you.


about 4 years ago melissav

We had this for dinner last night along with a couple of stone crab claws and a butter lettuce salad with avocado and pickled onions and radishes. It was the perfect dinner and the clams stole the show. Already thinking of when I can make this again.


about 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

So glad to hear this -- my blog post got so little traction I thought "Eh! Guess people don't like clams!"


about 4 years ago msitter

Great recipe. Perfect for small meals and, with a little care, even bruschetta.


almost 4 years ago msitter

Adding a comment to my initial note, I made this recipe last night and found it exceptional, using regular paprika, instead of smoked, and maybe a touch more sauce than in the picture, capturing the essence of a pan roast. On top of everything else, it is fast and easy to prepare. You positioned it as a lunch thing, but it was great for dinner. (Even company) When I saw that it was for lunch, I thought, oh, I better not have this for dinner. Then, I found this quote by Marion Cunningham, liberating me to have it for dinner: " For supper, you may eat anything you want; you needn't be conventional. I liked a baked potato with olive oil and coarse salt and pepper followed by vanilla ice cream last night."


almost 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Love that quote.


about 4 years ago ellenl

Oh my, this sounds so good!