At your next party, serve your guests a delicious mound of fresh clams with butter and some bread to soak up the juice. Although there are many ways to cook clams, steaming, grilling and baking are the easiest and fastest ways to prepare them. After the clams are cooked, serve them on their own, or add them to other dishes, such as soup or pasta.
When buying clams, select only those that are still closed, unbroken and undamaged. Store them in the refrigerator until they are ready to use. To prepare the clams for cooking, soak them in fresh water for 20 minutes. This eliminates much of the salt and the sand in the shells. When they're finished soaking, pick the clams out of the water instead of pouring the water off them. This prevents the sand that has settled at the bottom from getting back into the clams.
One of the easiest ways to cook clams is steaming. Typically, steamer clams are the best cooked this way, but you can also steam littlenecks or cherrystones. Fill a large pot with 2 cups of water and a cup of white wine and bring to a boil. Add six dozen clams. For extra flavor, add unsalted butter and garlic to the pot. Cover the clams and let them steam for five to 10 minutes, until they are open. Serve with melted butter and lots of napkins, or add steamed clams to pasta dishes or soups.
For a delicious appetizer at your next outdoor party, grill some clams on the barbecue. They are extremely easy to prepare and grill very quickly. Place your clams in a single layer on a hot grill, so that none are overlapping. When they are open wide -- in about three to five minutes, they are done. Serve with an aioli sauce, cocktail sauce or traditional garlic butter. Be sure to let your guests know how hot the shells are. They might be tempted to start grabbing them too quickly.
Baked clams are a delicious appetizer, or, if you have enough to satisfy, as your main meal. Before baking the clams, clean the shells thoroughly. Create a mixture of breadcrumbs seasoned with salad dressing mix, crab meat or cheese, garlic and onion. Open the clam shells and place some of the mixture inside each shell, leaving the shells open. Bake in a glass dish for 10 to 12 minutes. Serve the clams in their shells. Make a side salad with baby shrimp and ranch dressing, along with some garlic bread, for a complete meal.
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