During the summer months, I always keep the fridge stocked with a few bottles of rosé. But I don’t just drink rosé—I cook with it, too. In addition to being the perfect warm-weather beverage, it’s also an ingredient that can perk up just about any recipe.
I can’t take much credit for this brilliant idea. A few years ago my friend Emily hosted a dinner party in the Hamptons and served a pot of fresh littleneck clams steamed in rosé as an appetizer. The glorious combination of dry wine, briny clams, butter, and garlic is one I’ll never forget. In fact, I daydream about it often.
When I make this dish now, I add whole pink peppercorns. Crackly enough to add great texture, but also tender enough that they don’t need to be ground. And, like rosé, they’ve got a pretty pink blush with subtle fruity flavor.
Since this is a dish best served outside, I highly recommend doing all of the cooking and charring on the grill. But if you’d rather cook indoors, just place a cast-iron pot on the stove and use your broiler to char the bread.
If you’ve never cooked fresh clams, a couple things to know: First, discard any clams that have broken or cracked shells. The clams should be tightly clamped shut. If they’re open, give them a tap on the counter. If they close back up, they’re good. If they stay open, discard them.
To clean the clams, set them in a bowl of cold tap water. Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes and allow the clams to spit out any sand they may have collected. If you’re using farmed clams, they’ll likely already be cleaned, but I like to do this regardless. It’s better to have extra-clean clams than a pot of sandy ones.
Littleneck clams are small, briny, and a bit sweet. Manila clams, which may be more widely available, work well, too. Larger varieties of clams also do the trick—just be sure to tack on a few extra minutes to make sure they’ve got enough time to steam.
- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 10 minutes
- Serves 4
pink peppercorns, plus more for garnish
fresh littleneck or Manila clams, rinsed and cleaned
loaf of ciabatta, halved lengthwise
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Lemon wedges, for serving
- Finely chop 4 cloves of garlic and the shallot. Slice the last clove of garlic in half and set aside.
- Either on the stove or the grill, place a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the butter. Once melted, add the chopped garlic, shallot, pink peppercorns, and salt. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, lowering the heat if needed, until the garlic and shallot are softened but not quite brown. Add the rosé and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add the clams and cover the pot with its lid. Let cook, undisturbed, for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, drizzle the split ciabatta with olive oil and place cut side down on the grill or place cut side up under a heated broiler. Once charred on the first side, flip and repeat with the other side. Remove from the grill or broiler and rub with the halved garlic clove. Cut into chunks.
- Uncover the pot of clams (if many of them aren’t open yet, keep cooking until they are). Taste the broth and add another pinch of salt, if desired. Give them a stir and discard any clams that haven’t opened. Sprinkle with parsley and drizzle with olive oil. Using your tool of choice (like mortar and pestle or spice grinder), coarsely grind some pink peppercorns and sprinkle on top.
- Serve the pot of clams with the charred ciabatta, for sopping up the juice, and lemon wedges, for squeezing on top.