2 dozen small clams
1/2 lb fresh chorizo sausage (you can used dried if that is all you can find and then 1/4 lb)
1 medium onion diced
2 stalks of celery chopped
1 red bell pepper chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced or crushed
1 1/2 tablespoons paparika
1 teaspoon thyme
a pinch of saffron threads
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1 can chicken stock (low sodium)
When you get the clams home from the fish market, place them in some salt water (uncovered) and put in the refridgerator. It is best to keep them overnight if possible. This causes them to cleanse the sand out and they will not die. You want the salt water to taste like the sea.
When you are ready to make the portuguese clams, take the sausage out of the casing and brown in a skillet that is at least 4 inches deep or a dutch oven. After you brown the sausage, you can drain off some of the grease, but there is a lot of flavor there so leave some in the pan. In the drippings with the sausage (and if necessary add a bit of olive oil), sautee the onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic until soft. Season with salt, pepper, paprika, thyme, saffron and red pepper flakes. For parties, I make it to this point and set aside until I am ready to serve. (If you do it a day ahead, refridgerate). Add the chicken stock. You can let this simmer covered for a bit to let the flavors marry if you have time. If not, don't worry about it.
Remove the clams from the fridge and take them out of the salt water with you hands, being careful to leave the sand at the bottom of the bowl , and place clams in a colander. Rinse the clams and discard any that are not closed or the shells are broken.
Bring the chicken stock mixture to a boil and place the clams in the savory broth. Cover and reduce the heat to medium or medium low. You want the broth to bubble around the clams, but not cook to hard. You will want to shake the pot from time to time and when the clams have opened, they are done. This should take about 5 minutes tops.
This is delicious served over pasta as a main course or can be served as an appetizer without pasta with some focaccia on the side.
As a main course this serves 2 people, but can easily be doubled. Serves 4 as an appetizer.