5 Ingredients or Fewer

Sunday Night Clam Snack

May 18, 2015
1 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Ever since living in Europe, where everyone seems to casually sit down for a glass of wine and hors d’oeuvre before serving dinner, I’ve wanted to do the same with our family on the weekends. But it turns out we’re very American in our ways, rushing around doing laundry, finishing up homework, writing a few last emails, cracking open a beer while someone puts the food on plates, and then plopping down at the table in a collective exhale. We do light candles and toast, but the hour-long preamble has remained a fantasy.
However, I have managed to squeak in one dish that encourages everyone to pause. On Sunday nights, we often make fish tacos. Our fishmonger at the Greenmarket also sells excellent littleneck clams. I’ve taken to buying a dozen and roasting them until they open. As they do, we all gather around the counter, dabbing them with butter and topping the warm, briny clams with a droplet or two of Cholula. We eat them standing up, chatting, shells clanking against the pan—a civilized and sweet family gathering. And once the last clam goes—quickly!—we get back to our business. —Amanda Hesser

What You'll Need
  • 1 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter
  • Cholula hot sauce, to taste
  • Optional: lemon juice, preserved lemons, parsley, and anything else you like with your clams
  1. Heat oven to 400° F. Spread the clams in a cast iron skillet or dish, or other heavy casserole dish.
  2. Roast until the clams open, then remove from the oven and dot each clam with butter and a droplet of hot sauce. (You may transfer them to a serving dish if you like.) If you like lemon or herbs with your clams, this is the time to add it—we keep ours succinct.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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    David Olive
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    Lauren's Plate
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Amanda Hesser

Recipe by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.

17 Reviews

David O. June 3, 2015
Thanks Amanda, but whenever I steam clams in wine and herbs, I usually have to filter the remaining liquid through cheesecloth to use in a broth for pouring over or making a clam dip. I get the clams fresh at Costco since fresh fishmongers are hard to find around here (I live in Memphis). There is often quite a bit of sand in the shells themselves.
Amanda H. June 3, 2015
Ah -- well, you could definitely strain the juices and pour it back over the clams. Because you're not adding liquid to the pan before roasting, the juices are minimal but this seems worth trying if your clams are sandy.
David O. June 3, 2015
How do you deal with the inevitable sandy grit?
Amanda H. June 3, 2015
I scrub them well before cooking, and that helps. If there's grit inside the shell, I just work around it.
mizerychik June 3, 2015
There's always grit inside the clams I get no matter how many times I change the water, so I usually pull them out of the shells and rinse them well in a colander under hot water. I think it would work in this recipe if you put the rinsed clam meat onto a plate, then added butter and hot sauce to the juice to taste.
Rhonda35 December 16, 2016
I find adding a tablespoon or two of corn meal to the soaking water helps the clams purge themselves of sand and grit. I still have to scrub the shells, but the cornmeal does the "inside job" for me. (This is a trick I learned from my grandmother. It works with all manner of mollusks.)
SabrinaLVH June 3, 2015
Could someone give me a rough estimate for how long the clams would take to open up (is it like 10 minutes)? I've never cooked them this way. Thanks for the recipe!
Amanda H. June 3, 2015
Yes, about 10 minutes. If they're small little guys, then maybe 8 minutes!
Lauren's P. May 21, 2015
Nice to start these family/friend rituals...makes us more connected to one another around the counter/table of food! Also reminded of a Patricia Wells recipe from http://www.la-cagouille.fr/
Amy M. May 21, 2015
If you made spaghetti with clams then you would feel more European and even sub beer for wine. There is nothing better than Spaghetti con Le vongole verace and they are easier to make than you think plus you can sit to eat them!
Sarah C. May 20, 2015
As the girlfriend of a Rhode Island quahogger, I'm so happy to see Food52 promoting littlenecks! Looking forward to some chowder and cherry stone recipes too! Everyone pushes the littlenecks, but we can't forget their older, just as delicious and under utilized counterpart. As always, awesome!
Arthur I. May 20, 2015
This is the way we do it on the Coast or North Carolina but we cook them outside on a fire.
Amanda H. May 20, 2015
I did that once in South Carolina -- on a giant grate over a fire pit. So delicious!
Karen May 20, 2015
I'm going to try this with oysters, too!
amysarah May 20, 2015
I do clams this way in the summer in a covered Weber kettle, over charcoal (in a basket or on a piece of heavy duty foil.) I usually whisk hot sauce with melted butter and drizzle it over them - with a pile of lemon wedges and a cold beer, kind of perfect (American) summer food.
marsiamarsia May 18, 2015
BRAVA! What a fabulous "snack" to start off the evening! I was so inspired, I plan to start my own Sunday Night Clam Bake! (P.S. I think that instead of "And once the last clams goes" I think you meant to say, "And once the last clam goes." )
Amanda H. May 18, 2015
Thank you! And the typo is fixed now -- I appreciate you pointing it out.