Cooking Tips

To Get Your Clams to Open Up, Give Them a Glass of Wine

Steam your clams in wine for a deliciously boozy broth.

Published Dec. 8, 2021.

A night spent sweating over a hot stove calls for a glass of crisp white wine and a nice, relaxing bath—for the clams, of course. (Your reward is getting the pleasure of eating them afterwards.)

When steaming clams, we mostly focus on the theatrical moment we know they’re done cooking: the second they pop open and reveal their delicious, meaty insides. But if you really want to cook clams to their full, delicious potential, you should focus a little more on what you’re steaming them in.

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While most clam recipes will have you steaming your seafood in water before adding it to a creamy sauce, Cook’s Illustrated’s Clams Steamed in White Wine recipe creates a flavorful broth from the start by using white wine.

Here’s their formula for a quick, flavorful broth for cooking 4 pounds of clams. Bring these four ingredients to a simmer in a Dutch oven over high heat and cook for 3 minutes before adding 4 pounds of littleneck clams.

  • 1½ cups dry white wine
  • 3 minced shallots
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf

As the clams cook and open up, their briny juices overflow into the already flavorful broth. The resulting sauce can simply be emulsified with butter and served along with the clams: There's no waste and less fussing around with a separate sauce.

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Once the dish is cooked and the quick broth emulsified into a zingy, buttery sauce, this delicious one-pot meal is garnished with lemon and parsley for an extra kick of acidity, and your clams are ready to be enjoyed.

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