Clams! I love all types of seafood, but when they are sweet, small and cooked to perfection, clams ring out at the top. My love affair with the clam started in Cascias, Portugal, where I broke my own rule of photographing a meal in public. Two nights later, I skipped most of a buffet, and ate nothing but several plates of these delicious sweet creatures from the sea.
This obsession followed me back to America on the east coast of South Carolina. One night, thirteen of us stumbled upon a restaurant that had a long family table under a tin roof porch, and enjoyed sweet clams during a thunderstorm. Unlike in Portugal, I was enjoying vacation too much and forgot to take a picture of the meal before it was devoured. Our waiter was happy to hip us to their source for clams at the Carolina Seafood Market in nearby McClellanville. We drove out there the very next day, stocked up, and returned home to feed our starving crew.
For a hungry crowd Cavatappi pasta can stretch a meal. I used Sicilian Italian Sausage because it is loaded with fennel, and the flavor goes well with the orange and clams. This dish is versatile with wine. A dry rosé, medium red, or a crisp white all pair marvelously. We serve this in the center of the kitchen island with small plates as an antipasti for a fun crowd. I hope you enjoy this Italian Sausage and Clams Recipe as much as we did! Try it with a garlic crostini to sop up the sauce. Enjoy!
- 1 pound Sicilian Italian Sausage
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ lb. Pancetta, diced
- 1 cup onion, Vidalia or other sweet, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 dozen manilla clams
- ½ cup white wine
- 1 cup orange juice, fresh squeezed
- 1 Tablespoon heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon slat, Kosher
- ½ teaspoon oregano, Greek
- Garlic Crostini
- If you are lucky enough to find Italian sausage in a continuous thin link, roll it in a pinwheel circle and place in a large sauté pan with 2 Tablespoons hot olive oil. Place in a 400ºF oven for 15 minutes until cooked. If not, take the sausage out of the casing, or use bulk sausage and place in a large sauté pan with 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Sauté until it begins to brown. Remove and set aside.
- In the same large sauté pan with the hot oil, add the pancetta first and then the onion and garlic. Sauté until the onions are translucent, the garlic golden brown and the pancetta crispy.
- On medium heat, add the pin-wheel/or bulk sausage to the center of the pan and the clams on top.
- Deglaze with white wine, add the orange juice, salt and oregano.
- Cover the pan with a lid or aluminum foil. Simmer over medium high heat until the clams begin to open. Clams can become over cooked quickly. As the clams open, remove them from the pan and set aside in a bowl.
- Turn the heat off and swirl in the heavy cream. This gives the sauce a velvety finish. Adjust with salt and fresh ground black pepper.
- Return the clams to the sauté pan with the sausage and sauce.
- Serve with chopped basil and Garlic Crostini, placed around the edge of the pan.