I know what you want right now in the heat of summer. You want something light, quick to cook, flavorful but simple. No problem! I find that my appetite can be stifled by the heat. The idea of stepping into my kitchen and sweating over a hot stove is not appealing. So, I came up with Clams in Fennel Broth. First, you can cook this in 20 minutes easily. Chop fennel and leek. Throw into pot. Add clams and simmer 10 minutes. Done. Second, Clams in Fennel Broth is light with a pure, seafood flavor. You can taste the clams, sweet and briny. They pair nicely with herbal fennel and buttery leek. Make sure to use the fennel fronds at the end- so important to the flavor! This week at the Boulder Farmers Market fennel was everywhere I looked, so we’re cooking in the moment here. It feels good.
I thought about adding pasta or crusty bread, but decided against it. When it’s this hot outside, you just don’t need anything more than a bit of seafood and some delicious broth to slurp. Glass of wine too, you’ll definitely need that.
Clams in Fennel Broth
serves 4 as a starter or 2 for a light summer meal
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bulb fennel, diced and fronds set aside
1 leek, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper
1 pound littleneck clams, rinsed under water and scrubbed clean**
Heat a medium pot, such as a Le Creuset dutch oven, over medium heat. Add butter and once it has melted, toss in the garlic. Cook the garlic for 1 minute, stirring, to infuse the butter with flavor. Both the fennel and leek can be tossed in the pot now. Cook for about 3 minutes on medium-low heat until the vegetables are tender but do not allow them to brown. Pour in the white wine and water and bring to a simmer. Add the clams and simmer, covered, for about 8-10 minutes until all the clams open. Discard any that do not open their shells.
Now it’s time to make an awesome broth. Take the clams out of the pot and set them aside. Taste the broth and season with salt and pepper as needed. Feel free to add some water to the broth if you are low on liquid. A splash of heavy cream will give the broth a lovely texture, but don’t go crazy with the cream, ok? Cut a lemon in half and squeeze in some of the juice to taste. You’re balancing the cream with acidity from the lemon. Nice. Put the clams back in the broth and give it a stir. Remember those fennel fronds you set aside? Chop up a handful and throw them into the pot with the clams.
Spoon the broth into bowls and top with the clams. Serve at room temp or just a touch warmer, but not piping hot- it’s summer!
**Clam shells should be tightly shut before cooking. Clams that do not close up when tapped on the counter should not be cooked- throw them out.