Littleneck Clams with Chorizo and Garlic

My husband likes most all that I cook for him – in fact, the only thing that got a resounding thumbs down were my Cold Peanut Noodles – I still say it’s not the noodles so much as his distaste for cold pasta, but that’s another story for another day.  But because of his regular approval, I live for those dishes that mean adoration spelled across his face in a smile – the ones that get a “This is REALLY good, baby!” instead of a mere “It’s good.”  The bites that make him look up immediately, eyes creased with a smile, the satisfaction emanating in a grin and nod.  They don’t tell you when you get married that you become hypersensitive to context clues, but alas, here I am, reading facial expressions like ancient runes, sussing out the inside scoop.

This recipe, inspired by a similar dish we shared at a mom and pop joint in Long Island, won the coveted gold seal of approval from the hubby with first bite.  I had to chuckle because although I was proud of a good dish coming together under my auspice, it was one of the simplest dishes I’ve ever prepared.  Don’t worry, I’ll still take the credit for the glory.

Clams are more expensive than they used to be (and certainly more expensive than mussels), so the addition of chorizo and garlic seem to extend the meal quite a bit with the creation of a sumptuous wine sauce.  I’ve seen many other recipes serve this over pasta, but we enjoy it with plenty of bread for mopping up every last bit of sauce.  In addition to tracking down the medium sized littleneck clams, you’ll also want to find cured chorizo – the hard, smoked variety rather than its fresh cousin.  The paprika in the sausage dyes the broth a fiery crimson that enlivens the dish in terms of color but not heat – so if you like it hot, feel free to add a healthy pinch of crushed red pepper.  Spicy or mild, you’re bound to relish in the sheer simplicity of this recipe – and I don’t expect you to take my word for it.  Make it for yourself and then decide 🙂

This recipe doubles and triples exceedingly well, so plan for 1/2 lb. of clams per person for an appetizer, or a full pound for a light entree.

Littleneck Clams with Chorizo and Garlic

2 tbs. of butter
1 lb. of littleneck clams, scrubbed of grit and sand
7 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced into slivers
1 or 2 oz. of cured Spanish chorizo, sliced into thin half-moons
3/4 c. of wine
2 tbs. of parsley, chopped

In a large skillet, melt the butter over high heat.  Add the chorizo and garli and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the wine and let simmer until it reduces by 1/3 and chorizo softens, about 2 minutes.  Add the clams to the pan, making sure that all are touching the bottom of the pan.  Pop a lid on top and cook until clams open up – about 5 minutes.  This is kind of fun to watch with a glass lid – all of a sudden the clams will just spring open and take in all that garlicky sauce, just like magic.  When the clams have opened, sprinkle the parsley over the top and turn off the heat.  Pour the entire contents of the pan into a shallow serving dish and serve with plenty of crusty bread.  Watch your guests’ faces for signs of exuberant approval.