Clams with Soffritto

I’ve served clams with soffritto at a dinner with some friends, and they’ve asked me to give them the recipe. It would be very unfair to claim this recipe as my own. It’s actually very much inspired by Thomas Keller book Bouchon.

This recipe takes some time, especially if you want to make the right soffritto. Soffritto is one of the base of Italian cuisine. Start the soffritto at least 4 hours before you plan on eating.

For a main dish, I usually use 1 pound of clams for 2 persons (this recipe is for 2 pounds). There are 3 main stages for this recipe: first, the soffritto, then the garlic confit, and finally, the cooking of the clams.

Let’s start with the soffritto: finely dice a big yellow onion. In a pan, add olive oil in order to cover all the onions. It’s like they have to take a bath! Heat the oil. Once hot, reduce the heat, and add the onions. Reduce the heat to leave just a tiny simmering. It shouldn’t boil or your onions are going to burn! Let simmer for 1.5 to 2hrs (make sure the onions don’t caramelized too much on the side of the pan). This is very slow cooking.

During that time, we’re going to prepare the garlic confit. It’s dead easy, and you can keep some in the fridge. For 2 pounds of clams, we’ll need 24 garlic cloves. Peel the cloves, and put them in a pan with enough canola oil to cover them (you want more oil on top of them). At very low temperature, cook them for 45 minutes, until soft. Be very careful not to over heat the pan. If big bubbles are coming up, it’s too hot. It should be really slow and should barely simmer. Once cooked, remove from the oil.
Back to the soffritto. Add 1/3 cup of tomatoe puree to the mixture, mix well, and let cook for another hour. By then, your soffritto is ready.

10 minutes before serving, sweat some shallots in a pot. Then add and mix the soffritto, the garlic confit, and the clams. Mix well. Add two good glasses of dry white wine (I like wine, so I’m usually very generous at this stage). Cover. Put under very high heat. Let boil until the clams are opened. It shouldn’t take more than 4-5 minutes of boiling. Add some fresh parsley. Set aside (still covered). Salt, pepper.

You can serve this with very different types of croutons. Garlic, Aioli, etc…


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