Chef Dean Maupin thinks most things taste better with smoky bacon. These bacon-garnished briny clams, steamed in Virginia's fruity and floral Viognier, are such a big hit that he serves them regularly during the cooler spring and fall months. That's when the clams he likes from Willis Wharf, a small fishing town on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, are best. Try serving them with the wine they're steamed in.
More Recipes With Clams
1 pound small parsnips, peeled
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 ounces thickly sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
1 1/2 cups Viognier
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
4 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed and rinsed
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons snipped chives
Oyster crackers, for garnish
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 350°. On a baking sheet, brush the parsnips with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the parsnips, turning once or twice, until tender, about 40 minutes. Let cool slightly, then quarter the parsnips lengthwise and slice them 1/4 inch thick.
Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, cook the bacon over moderately high heat until well browned and crisp, about 6 minutes. Drain the bacon strips on paper towels; wipe out the skillet.
In the skillet, bring the Viognier to a boil with the butter and shallot. Add the clams, cover and cook over high heat until they open, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the clams to a large bowl.
Pour the clam broth into a glass measuring cup. Rinse out the skillet. Slowly pour the clam broth back into the skillet, stopping before you reach the grit at the bottom. Add the cream and boil until the liquid has reduced by half, about 8 minutes. If the cream sauce separates, transfer to a blender and puree until smooth, then return it to the skillet.
Add the roasted parsnips, bacon, chives and the cooked clams in their shells to the skillet. Season generously with pepper, cover and bring to a boil. Spoon into shallow bowls, sprinkle with oyster crackers and serve immediately.