I think mussels and clams must be my husband’s favorite food. I swear he requests them all the time. I like them also, but only in an appetizer portion. I’d also need a nice large tossed salad or something to go with. For my better half, I just need to make a nice sauce and break off a piece of fresh Italian or French bread. Happy, happy, happy.
Finally, after the long crappy winter, we’ve had some nice days. I think we grilled something like 5 days in a row. I could easily grill nearly every day if left to my own devices. Last year, we went all out and bought a four-in-one grilling station. It has a sear burner, gas grill (with 3 burners), charcoal grill, and a smoker box. All in one gargantuan unit. It weighs 250 pounds. As me, I know. We went to a big box store and made out purchase. We had one of the guys stow it in the van. But once we got home…just me. Did I tell you my husband is disabled? Somehow, I maneuvered it out and onto a pull-thingy with wheels. It only took me two days to assemble – and that’s without too many left over bolts and stuff. Pretty nifty, huh?
So on to grilling. Ferdinand decided that he would like his shells grilled. He thought I didn’t know how to do it, but I was prepared. Actually, it is so easy HE did it. Just know that the clams take longer to open than the mussels. Apparently, mussels are wussies. Hmmmm. The hardest part is removing the clams without spilling their juices. Just use a steady hand with those tongs and keep a large bowl nearby.
Grilled Mussels and Clams
- 2 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed clean (or any combination of mussels and clams)
- 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed clean and beards removed
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
- 1 large shallot, sliced thin
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (or beer or chicken broth)
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- chopped parsley or cilantro, for garnish, optional
1 baguette, for serving
Preheat your grill for medium heat.
As you are scrubbing your clams and mussels, discard any with cracked shells, or those that are open. You can gently squeeze the mussel shells and, if they are still alive, they will slowly close. If not, toss. If you have farmed mussels, they should not have any beards to worry about. If they do, just grasp firmly and pull out beards.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, while stirring a bit, until the shallot softens, about 5 minutes. Stir in the wine (broth), lemon juice, and pepper flakes. Keep warm.
Place the shells directly on the grill grates and remove them individually once they open wide. Be careful to retain their juices as you remove them if possible. They’ll take between 5 and 10 minutes to all open up.
Pour the sauce over top and garnish with herbs, if desired.
Serve with fresh bread, for dunking, and be sure to provide a large bowl to toss the empty shells in.