Winter Clams

I have a favorite recipe for clams which involves placing them on the BBQ until they pop open and then tossing in them a spicy garlic oil. I have never made a clam dish that I like better until this next recipe.  And since this next recipe does not involve having to go outside to my BBQ, this next recipe for clams will now be the way I will make clams when I want them in the winter.

The recipe came from a more advanced cookbook, Slow Fires. By more advanced I wouldn’t say the recipes are harder, they just involve more planning and more prep but totally doable if you plan in advance!  And so far the recipes I have made from this cookbook have been definitely worth the extra planning!!

The recipe tagged was for Winter Clams in Avocado-Chile Butter.

To start with I brined my clams. I mixed 2 quarts of water with ½ cup of kosher salt.  Once dissolved I placed 2 cups of ice and 4 lbs of little neck clams into to the water.  As I put my clams in the brine I made sure that any clams slightly open would remain shut if I pressed them together.  Any that didn’t I discarded.  I refrigerated for 3 hours.

While my clams brined I took a serrano pepper and grated it with the small holes on my box grater.

This is a Serrano chile. A bit more heat and complex flavor than a jalapeno.

I sprinkled it with salt, mixed and let it sit for about 10 minutes before mixing it with olive oil. I let my finished oil sit at room temperature until it was time to eat. 

I then got to work making an avocado chile oil. In my food processor I placed a clove of garlic, a serrano chile, an avocado and lime zest.  I processed until combined and then added butter before processing again until fully combined.  I placed the finished butter in the refrigerator.

prior to butter being added…

After the clams had been in the brine for 3 hours I removed them and gave them a good rinse. I heated olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Once hot I added half of the clams and stirred to coat them in oil.

I added a bit of water, covered the skillet, shook it occasionally and waited for the clams to open.

As they opened I removed them from skillet and placed them in a large bowl.

Once all the clams had opened I repeated with the remaining clams. Any clams which were stubborn and didn’t open I discarded.

big bowl of clams!

I lowered the heat to medium and whisked in the avocado chile butter a bit at a time. Once all the butter had been added I stirred in lemon juice.

action shot!

Then I added all the clams back to the skillet, tossed in the sauce and let them warm for a couple of minutes.

I removed the skillet from heat and stirred in chopped chives.

Then I divided the clams and sauce among bowls and drizzled with the serrano oil, fresh orange juice and shredded chorizo. I served with a few pieces of toasted bread to soak up the delicious sauce.

How did it taste: Matt said “restaurant quality” after he took his first bite.  And like I said at the beginning of the post this is now the way I will make clams when I am craving them in the winter.  And craving is a good way to describe the taste, because right now as I am typing I want that taste in my mouth!  Despite all the serrano peppers the dish wasn’t spicy, it was nicely balanced.  And the creaminess of the avocado made the clams feel homey.  These are comfort dish clams for sure!


Clams with Avocado Serrano Butter and Serrano Oil Drizzle
  1. 2 quarts of water, plus more for steaming
  2. ½ cup kosher salt
  3. 2 cups of ice
  4. 4 lbs little neck clams, scrubbed
  5. 2 TB olive oil, divided
  6. 1 recipe of Avocado Serrano Butter (recipe below)
  7. 2 TB lemon juice
  8. 3 TB chives, thinly sliced
  9. Serrano Oil (recipe below)
  10. Juice from ¼ of an orange
  11. 1 oz of dry cured chorizo, shredded*
  12. Warm bread for serving
  1. Mix water and salt in a deep container. Once salt is dissolved place clams and ice into the salt water. Make sure any clams slightly open stay shut when you squeeze them. Discard any that do not. Place the container in the refrigerator for 3 hours.
  2. Rinse the clams under cold water. Place 1 TB of the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Once oil is hot add half of clams to the skillet, stir to coat them all in the oil and add ½ cup of water to the skillet. Cover and shake the skillet occasionally. The clams will begin to open up after a few minutes. Use tongs to remove the open clams from the skillet and place them in a large bowl. Recover the skillet and continue to steam. Any clams that don’t open after 10 minutes discard.
  3. Add the remaining 1 TB of oil to the skillet. Then add the rest of the clams and another ½ cup of water. Cover and repeat steaming shaking the skillet and removing clams as they open.
  4. Once all the clams have been removed from the skillet lower the heat to medium. Whisk in Avocado Serrano Butter a few tablespoons at a time. Continue to whisk in butter until all has been incorporated. Whisk in lemon juice and then add all the clams any liquid in the bowl they are in into the skillet. Toss the clams in the sauce and let them cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Remove the skillet from heat and stir in chives. Divide up clams and sauce into individual bowls. Drizzle each with Serrano Oil, some orange juice and top with grated chorizo. Serve with warm bread.
  1. Serves 2
  2. *to shred chorizo place it in the freezer for 1 hour and then grate on a box grater.
Cooking with Rosemary
Avocado Serrano Butter
  1. 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  2. 1 serrano chile, roughly chopped
  3. 1 ripe avocado
  4. ½ tsp lime zest
  5. ¼ lb butter
  1. Place first 4 ingredients in a food processor and process until combined. Add the butter and continue to process until combined. Store covered in the refrigerator.
  1. Make butter while you are waiting for the clams to brine.
Cooking with Rosemary
Serrano Oil
  1. 1 serrano chile
  2. 4 pinches of salt
  3. 2 TB plus 2 tsp olive oil
  1. Grate serrano using small holes on a box grater. Stir in salt and let the stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Mix in olive oil. Let stand at room temperature.
  1. Make at least 30 minutes before serving clams. You can make up to a month ahead of time, store covered in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature before using.
Cooking with Rosemary