Posted by: acooksca | 08/13/2010

Manila Clams, Spanish Chorizo and Potatoes

Manilla clams, chorizo and potatoes

Manila clams, although not indigenous to the Pacific Coast, are the live clams found most often here. They have a nugget of sweet meat and mildly briny juice.  Clams that you purchase from fish markets should have tightly closed shells and smell like a fresh sea breeze. They can live many days in refrigeration, clamped tightly to retain juice in their shells. If the shells are open discard them.

Clams need to be encouraged to spit out any sand within their closed shells by soaking. Dissolve ¼ cup fine sea salt (or 3 tablespoons table salt) in a quart of cold water. Soak the clams, stirring a few times, until the water looks dirty (about 15 minutes). If a lot of sand has been spit out, repeat this cleansing process. Wash the clams in fresh water and refrigerate while you set up the rest of the recipe.

There are several types of sausage called chorizo. The Mexican chorizo is a raw pork sausage and not the one you want for this recipe. Buy the dried, ready to eat chorizo, preferably imported from Spain. It comes in thin links at most Italian or European food shops.

This recipe is designed to yield a richly flavorful broth that begs for a simple French or Italian bread as a sponge for the juice.

Serves two as main course

 8 ounces small fingerling potatoes
4 ounces Spanish (dried) chorizo, sliced
1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 ½ lbs live Manila clams, soaked to clean (see above)
½ cup white wine or white vermouth

Slice the unpeeled potatoes into ¼-inch thick coins. Place the potato slices in a large sauté pan with enough water to just cover. Simmer gently until potatoes are just tender, about 6 minutes. Remove potatoes to a plate, lightly salt and cover to keep warm. Discard the water.

In a large saucepot heat the chorizo and shallots over medium heat, turning once or twice, until they soften, about 4 minutes. Increase the heat to high. Add the cleaned clams, wine and 1/2 cup water. Cover and simmer until all the clams have opened, about 5 minutes. Divide the clams, chorizo and juice between two bowls, adding the potato slices. Serve at once with Italian or French bread and butter.

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