Portuguese Littlenecks

The Chef will be happy to know this shellfish recipe is not for mussels, but it is close; it’s for clams!  Sorry I felt like that needed an exclamation point for some reason.  Recently Chef John and I had a lovely trip to Newport, RI.  While there I must have stuffed my face for every meal with clam chowda and lobster rolls.  It was amazing.  However, you can really go to just about any small town in New England and get amazing clam chowder or lobster rolls.  Two dishes we had (both clams of course) stood out as very Newport, very amazing and will always remind me of this trip, Portuguese Littlenecks and Clams Casino.  I had never had either before going to Newport and now I can’t get enough!  Below is a great recipe for Portuguese Littlenecks.  –ts

3 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces dry-cured chorizo, cut into 1/4-inch coins
One 1/4-inch-thick slice prosciutto cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 medium yellow onions, cut lengthwise in half and sliced into thin half-moons
1 bay leaf
4 garlic cloves, minced
One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, drained and chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
4 pounds littlenecks or any small clams, such as cockles, manila, or butter scrubbed and rinsed
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Bread for serving

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add chorizo and prosciutto and cook, stirring occasionally, until touched with brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Lower the heat to medium; drop in the onions and bay leaf, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Stir in the tomatoes and any accumulated juice, the wine, and paprika. Discard any clams that feel heavy (which means they’re full of sand), have broken shells, or don’t close when tapped. Add clams into the pot and turn the heat to high. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally until the clams pop open, 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Discard the bay leaf and toss out any clams that refuse to pop open. Season with a few grinds of pepper, shower with parsley, and ladle the stew into wide shallow bowls. Oh, and have a big bowl on hand for the shells.  Serve immediately with a large piece of bread to soak up juices.
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