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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Brown butter key to littleneck clam dish

By Paul Suplee, MBA, CEC, PC-3

What is it with these crappy little clams that people seem to adore? Everywhere I go, kitchens are serving up littleneck clams, tiny nuggets of savory deliciousness that they are. But, I can eat a hundred of them before I even begin to feel satiated. They’re so little. Hence the name.

No, I’m one of those psychos (apparently) who prefers the big clams all day long. Now, I’m not talking about quahogs, aka chowder clams, but a good top neck clam is enough for me to sink my teeth into and really taste something.

I would be remiss in my duties if I disregarded my customers’ tastes and opinions, though. I serve what the people ask for, and it always seems to be those blasted tiny, pea-sized pencil erasers that we call clams.

Ok, Paul, take a deep breath and just write about what’s going on today. Well, after a massage at Avenue Apothecary and a wonderful dinner at Blue Moon in Rehoboth, my girlfriend and I walked around town in a chilly nor’easter rain, checking out the various spots (and there were but a few) that were open on this offseason Tuesday night.

I love the offseason at the beach, as you get a taste of what the town is really like, seeing the locals in action and just taking it all in. Friends of mine have a beautiful son who they call the Mayor of Rehoboth. Last night Megan told us that he, at 4 years of age, chastised tourists last summer in his own kind, wise way and asked “Mommy, who are these people and why are they here? And why do we now have to wait so long to get our pizza?”

After our stunning dinner, and after some after-dinner drinks, I was in the mood for some clams, but couldn’t find any. I wasn’t surprised as our choices were limited, but I really didn’t need any more food – I just had a craving.

This of course was because I did a demonstration last week at school, making a large bowl for students to sample. Of course, I may have had a few, but that is part of my job. In fact, it’s a critical part of my job.

So as I awoke this morning to write this, I immediately opened up the picture and I could taste these clams. This is my favorite way to serve clams, and the brown butter truly makes the dish. In fact, simply steaming clams and serving them with brown butter will be a magnificent crowning achievement in your shellfish repertoire.

As you will see below, Brown butter is simple to make and should always be kept in the refrigerator. It goes so well is so many things.

And above all, make sure that you serve some toasty garlic breast to sop up the broth. After all, if you are stuck with littlenecks, at least you’ll have something to fill you up!

Lemon Brown Butter Clams

serves 4

50 Littleneck clams

4 Fresh organic lemons

4 ounces Chorizo sausage, cut into


1/2 cup Brown butter

(recipe follows)

2 cups Good dry white wine

12 Garlic cloves, confit

(recipe follows)

4 sprigs fresh thyme

salt and pepper, as needed

Italian parsley, for garnish

  1. Cut the ends off of the lemons and cut each in half
  2. Bring a pan to a fairly high heat and char the lemons and then set them aside
  3. Allow the pan to cool just a little and add some brown butter and chorizo. Cook for two minutes
  4. Add everything except the salt, pepper and parsley and shake the pan like there’s no tomorrow. This is important as it will encourage each clam to open as it cooks
  5. When all of the clams have opened, adjust the flavor of the broth with the salt and pepper, bowl them up (dividing evenly) and garnish with parsley

Brown Butter

makes about 1 cup

1 pound Unsalted butter

  1. Place the butter in a saucepan and place it on the stove on a medium heat
  2. As the butter melts, it will separate into the foam on top, the oil in the middle (the clarified butter), and water and milk solids that sink to the bottom
  3. Allow this to come to a soft boil, ensuring that it doesn’t boil over
  4. As the water evaporates through the boiling process, the fat will rise in temperature and will eventually cook (and almost burn) the milk solids. This is what gives brown butter its amazing flavor and essence
  5. When you have reached this point, remove from the heat and strain through cheesecloth, a paper towel, a clean kitchen towel or a coffee filter: dealer’s choice
  6. Set aside until ready to use

Garlic Clove Confit

makes about 2 cups

2 cups EV Olive oil

2 cups Fresh garlic cloves, peeled

and cleaned

  1. Place ingredients in a saucepan, making sure that the garlic is completely covered by oil. If you need more, simply add more. Science
  2. Bring to a low heat on the stove, keeping an eye on it to prevent it from ever coming to a “fry”
  3. Cook for about two hours on low or until the garlic has changed color and is completely soft
  4. Set aside until ready to use and store any leftovers in the icebox