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June 10, 2013

Maine Littleneck Clams

When I think of Maine clams I tend to think of soft shell clams, the kind Waldoboro is famous for, not the littlenecks of my New Jersey childhood. But yes, it’s true. You can find littlenecks in Maine. Ever cross the New Meadows River, glance up river, and notice people standing in boats with tong rakes? They are “bull raking,” which is the exhaustive work of hand raking mahogany or little neck clams.

littleneck-clams
image courtesy of wisegeek.com

Imagine my delight when a foraging friend recently brought me cherry stones from the Damariscotta River, which we devoured on the half shell. They were delicious! I see them popping up here and there on menus now, at Brian Hill’s Shepherd’s Pie, sourced from the New Meadows River, and more recently at the spanking new Salt Water Farm just down the street in Rockport, ME.

We ordered them at Salt Water Farm last week during a heat wave and they arrived at table chilled, studded with new green onions, and wonderfully seasoned in a broth rich with good olive oil and garden herbs. Aside from ruining my blouse with an oily stain (extracting them from the shell is best done wearing an apron!) they were perfect in the heat with a firm and delightful mouth feel.

Here is a recipe I believe you’ll enjoy:

Littleneck Clams with Chorizo, Tomato and Green Onion
Laura Cabot, Laura Cabot Catering, Waldoboro

2 pounds Littleneck clams
4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped Vidalia onion
1/4 cup white wine
1 plum tomato, chopped fine
1/2 cup crumbled Chorizo sausage
Fresh pepper and chopped parsley to taste, a dash of smoked paprika, chopped green onion

Rinse clams in cold water.

In a large pot with a tight fitting lid, heat oil and sauté onion, chorizo, and garlic; add paprika.

Add the wine, clams, and tomato. Cover tightly.

Steam until the clams open, about ten minutes.

Let cool down, then serve with broth and sprinkle with more pepper and green onion. Wear an old tee shirt and enjoy them fully!

Serves 2.

Laura Cabot is an MF&L columnist and blogger, a French trained chef with a long career as a chef/restaurant owner, and president of Laura Cabot Catering in Waldoboro.

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