Steamed Clams and Mussels in a Spicy, Herb, White Bean, Red Sauce

clams and mussels Sometimes the city gets to be a little much and I just need to GET OUT.  Don’t get me wrong, I love it here, but sometimes I need to breath in fresh air and exist in a space that is larger than the size of a coat closet.  So last weekend I hopped over the Hudson and visited my parents in New Jersey.  Many people think NJ is made up of 100% oil refineries and mob owned “Badda Bings”.  Yes, those do exist, but there are actually some really beautiful rural parts of the state, one of them being the town my parents live in.  The highlight of going home, for me, is their kitchen.  It’s 10 TIMES larger than my little shoebox kitchen and there is every culinary gadget you’d ever need.  Plus my mom and I love cooking together.  So this week I’m serving you this AWESOME Clams and Mussels recipe fresh from the Garden State!

onions and garlic Something a lot of people don’t give New Jersey credit for is it’s Seafood.  The Jersey Shore supplies the state with some of the best and freshest seafood around. Some of the most delicious frutti-di-NewJersey-mare are mussels and clams.  So, after my mom picked me up from the train, we grabbed just that from our favorite NJ fish monger. Dinner from “down the shore”!

red sauce NJ clams are my #1 favorite food (next to cheese) and I looovee fresh mussels.  When you buy clams and mussels as fresh as these you can’t help but notice the difference. The clams have an extra saltiness that tastes like the ocean and the mussels are plumper and juicier.  To me, nothing tastes more like my beloved NJ-homeland than the mussels and clams that were just plucked from the same ocean I grew up splashing around in.

basil in sauce Though these ingredients are all NJ-local, this recipe was inspired by a meal my dad and I ate at a Belgium Moules Frites restaurant in London.  If you’ve never had Moules Frites before, run to your nearest Belgian restaurant asap and order a Leffe Blonde and a bucket of mussels with fries because they are TO DIE FOR!  This recipe is a little different than your basic Moules Frites. The Moules we had in London also had cannellini beans in the broth.  The plump, mild beans accompanied the salty seafood so well that I felt I needed to recreate the meal at home.

cannellini We had the fresh seafood, the beans, and my parent’s kitchen, but the key was to make a delicious sauce to bring it all together.  We decided on a spicy red sauce, thinned out with clam juice and white wine, with fresh basil, thyme, and oregano.  The clams and mussels would then steam right in the sauce and flavor it with all their briny-goodness.

clams in sauce When you steam clams and mussels you need to do it exactly right.  There is a particular art to it, especially when steaming different kinds of shellfish in the same pot.  If you over cook the clams or mussels they will become rubbery and tough.  Even most restaurants get it wrong! But don’t worry because I’ve got you covered.  Follow my recipe below and you’ll never eat a rubbery mussel again!

clams and mussels for dinner Once you expertly simmer the seafood you are left with a bubbling, briny, delicious sauce that you can pour right over the bowl of perfectly cooked seafood.

Feast at home! We served these up family style right in the center of the table with large pieces of crusty bread to sop up the sauce.  Add a glass of crisp white wine, a tossed green salad, and fresh mozzarella with roasted red peppers and we had a feast!  I think I should visit home more often!
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