1. Elbows on the table.
2. Belgian wheat beer.
Littleneck Clams with Fennel, Lemon, and Belgian Ale
Adapted from this recipe posted on Chowhound
The broth in this recipe, made with Belgian wheat beer, has a pleasantly bitter undertone that contrasts nicely with mounds of sweet fennel and onions.
I have made some changes to the original recipe, which called for mussels. Mussels were unavailable to me this afternoon. With commendable frankness, my fish guy informed me, "the mussels are a disaster today," and I wasn't one to insist. Instead, I went with littleneck clams, which were lovely.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced lengthwise
3/4 cup Belgian-style wheat beer (such as Avery Brewing Co.'s White Rascal)
24 littleneck clams, scrubbed and rinsed
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
8-12 grape tomatoes, washed
1 teaspoon fennel fronds, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
crusty bread, for serving
Melt the butter in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. When the butter begins to foam, add the onion and fennel. Sweat until vegetables are tender, about 3 minutes.
Add the beer and bring mixture to a boil over high heat. Add the clams, tomatoes, and lemon zest and reduce heat to medium. Cover the pan with a large lid and let simmer, shaking the pan occasionally, until the clams begin to open, about 3-5 minutes.
Discard any clams that do not open after 5 minutes. Serve the clams in the broth with crusty bread.