One of the best tastes is roasted shellfish, yet many home chefs seem to avoid cooking them this way. The grill is usually reserved for the classics, dogs burgers, ribs and chicken. Some of the more adventurous will try salmon and even lobster. They're missing out on a simple dinner that is full of complex flavors.
Melissa Clark discovered this in her A Good Appetite column in yesterday's New York Times Food section. Mussels and clams are pretty easy to cook. Humanity has been doing such since our earliest days and most beaches in the area hosted clambakes by the indigenous peoples for centuries. Cooking shellfish is a snap. Put over hot coals and wait until the shells open, When they open, eat Just that simple.There are two cooking methods. One is throwing them directly on the grill grate until they open. This is the no fuss method however you miss out on those yummy juices that comes with the clams and especially the mussels. A better way is taking one of those disposable pans that you use for roasting holiday turkeys and putting the clams in first (they take longer to cook) and a few minutes later the mussels, The entire pain is tightly covered with heavy duty aluminum foil. This way you get the juices and whatever else you mix in with them.
What does work with both mussels and clams? Ms Clark recommends olive oil along with a dry white wine. There's also the addition of garlic for flavor as well as red chili flakes for heat and mint leaves. The surprise ingredient is sliced almonds. What she does with this is create a kind of gremolata or herb chutney with the added crunch of the nuts. Another idea is to add herbed butter or lemon and butter to the pan along with a tiny bit of minced garlic. Fresh sliced tomatoes and red wine can also make a good sauce , A favorite add in at beach parties is beer where the shellfish is steamed in the brew.Shallots and thyme are also added for more flavor. No matter how you makeyour clams and mussels,make sure there is plenty of crusty French or Italian bread to sop up the juices.Also make sure there are dishes or even pails to discard the shells.Ms. Clark recommends also serving a chilled white wine like Sancerre or a smoky Manzanilla sherry.
Mussels and clams deserve to be invited to be the barbecue. Grill them for any easy supper with a complex flavor. They are simply delicious, perfect for the season.