Clams with Chorizo and Corn
Something magic happens in the summer and I become a huge corn fan. Once that late summer corn stops coming around the market I'm done, but for these few short months I can't get enough. This dish is one I wait for all year. It's easy but special. It's delicious and can be done in one pot, or two if you're open to adding a little fancy flare. Either way, dare I say you'll be 'happy as a clam?'
Shellfish like clams are some of the most sustainable proteins you can eat plus one of the most nutrient dense. Despite this, they are often forgot about. They seem either intimidating or bottom feeders and therefore no good. But you're the only one losing out by thinking either one of these.
Storing and Cleaning Clams
This part is actually easier than you might think, and I also think it's kind of fun. To store them, you want them in the fridge, in a bowl with ice or a very cold damp cloth on top. They should not be submerged in water. I like to buy them the day I make them or the day before. Remember that they are living when you buy them.
Start the cleaning process about 1 hour before you are going to cook them. Place them in a colander, and place that colander in a bowl large enough to fit it all. Fill the bowl with luke warm water, not ice cold and certainly not hot. They should all be submerged now. You should see bubbles rise to the surface of the water, it may even look like the clams are dancing, which is super cute. What you're seeing is the clams open up, spit out their sand, and close back up. Some will suggest you add oats or salt to the clams for them to 'eat' but I've never done that and I've been fine. After about 10-20 minutes, lift the colander from the bowl of water and dump out the water. It should be very sandy. Repeat the process 2-3 more times until the water is no longer sandy. This depends on how many clams you have and how dirty they are. This whole process is making sure that all that sand doesn't end up in your plate.
When you're done, if you're not ready to cook just put the bowl back in the fridge for the time being.
2 chorizo sausage, sliced into chunks
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 fresh cobs of corn, about 1 cup kernels sliced off the cobs, cobs set aside
2-3 lbs littleneck clams, cleaned *see above
1 white wine
salt and pepper
about 1/2 cup chopped parsley, but I won't knock extra parsley
thick slices of toasty, crunchy bread for dipping
After you slice the corn kernels off the cob, place the remaining kernels in a pot and cover with water and a good pinch of salt. Remember you only have 3 cobs of corn here, so don't add so much water that you dilute the already delicate flavour. You just need a tiny bit of this. Bring this up to a boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer to create a simple corn broth. This part isn't totally necessary but is a very nice touch. Corn in a broth adds a lovely sweetness and starchiness that I appreciate. Let this go for as long as you have but hopefully about 30 minutes.
In a large, wide bottomed sauce pan, add the chorizo and cook over medium heat until they release their fat and start to get toasty along the edges. It should smell amazing. You don't want to burn the chorizo so lower the heat if necessary. Once it's all cooked through, remove it with a slotted spoon. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the remaining chorizo fat from the pan and add the sliced garlic, the corn, salt and pepper. Cook this over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes. You want both to take on some colour, but the garlic should not be burnt. The corn will get bright yellow and then dark in spots where it chars which is perfect.
Important note before you add the clams: never pour the clams out from a bowl, just in case there is some sand that has settled (yes even though you cleaned them!!). Always lift them out of the bowl and into the pan with your hands or a slotted spoon. Add these to the pan along with the wine and corn stock and toss it all together well. Cover with a lid or baking tray and steam the clams for about 5 minutes. Toss the pan gently every so often until the clams open. Remove the clams and the corn (you won't get every single corn kernel so don't go crazy) from the pan and let the sauce reduce and thicken a bit. If you want it to be saucier than you can skip this step.
Add everything back in (corn, chorizo, clams) along with the parsley and toss it as best as you can. Stuff the bread along the edges, or serve it on the side, and get ready to get messy for a worthy cause.