When I make clams I want the dish to feel more like a whole meal so I add a cooked grain and some greens to the mix. This idea was not my own, but one I have borrowed from chefs Chad Conley (formerly of Hugo’s and Gather in Maine and Jean-Georges in New York) and Greg Mitchell (Gramercy Tavern and Reynard in New York) who man the stoves at the refurbished Palace Diner (http://www.palacedinerme.com/) in Biddeford, Maine. They routinely mix shellfish with things like fregola sarda and bitter greens. I think I have come pretty close to recreating the clam, farro, and kale dish I ate there a couple of weeks ago. They used mahogany clams, but I run with a mix of my favorite hard shells: cherrystones and littlenecks. —cheese1227
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: Cheese1227 teaches cooking in Maine—so she knows a thing or two about seafood.
WHAT: A clambake, made heartier for winter.
HOW: Cook two types of clams two different ways, distribute between bowls, then use the clam cooking liquid to make a creamy mixture of farro and kale. Serve with a swirl of chile oil.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Some of the best clams are available in December and this recipe, bolstered with farro, packages them neatly into a hearty winter dish. If the clams don't warm us up, the hit of chile oil at the end will. —The Editors
In a 10-inch skillet, heat 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and cook for 2 to 3 minutes to soften. Add crushed garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add clam juice and bring to a steady simmer. Carefully scatter the cherrystone clams into the pan and cover. Cook until most of the clams have opened, between 5 and 7 minutes. Discard any clams that have not opened.
Meanwhile, in a 4-quart sauce pan, heat cream and season it with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon white pepper. Add littleneck clams to the simmering cream and cover. Cook until most of the clams have opened, between 3 and 5 minutes. Discard any clams that have not opened.
Split both types of clams between four bowls. Return the skillet used to cook the cherrystones to the stove over low heat, add farro to heat it through. Turn off the heat and fold in the baby kale leaves. Stir in cream used to cook littleneck clams.
Split farro and kale between the bowls. Pour sauce over the clams. Finish with a swirl of chile oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.
I am an excellent eater (I have been all my life). I’m a pretty good cook (Ask my kids!). And my passable writing improves with alcohol (whether it's the writer or the reader that needs to drink varies by sentence.). I just published my first cookbook, Green Plate Special, which focuses on delicious recipes that help every day cooks eat more sustainably.