Saturday Dinner: Clams Provençal, Steamed Shrimp and Broiled Scallops

The Wife celebrated birthday number 34 on Saturday. We officially celebrated the occasion with dinner at The Mission, but for the evening of her birth I wanted to do something different. I had planned on making boeuf bourguignon, the classic French dish, but ran into an issue. While I love bacon, the thought of standing over a pan to fry a slab of bacon and then render the fat later on sounded both disgusting and painful (oil splattering sucks).

So, rather than reach out to the land of Julia Child, I went for an old standby. The Wife loves fish, particularly shellfish. For her 30th birthday, I bought a bushel of clams and five of us killed it. It was the ultimate display of gluttony, I must say. Anyhow, anyone can steam a clam, but that leads to melted butter and a messy meal. As a kid, we never just ate steamed clams. My father always prepared “clams provincial.” Clams provençal is a French-style of cooking clams, steaming the shells in a boiling broth of butter, wine, garlic and herbs. In less than 10 minutes, dinner is done.

The Wife also like scallops, which I can take or leave, so I picked up some sea scallops this morning at Wegmans along with the clams. The selection was much better than I remember at the Fairmount store, and the end product married the sweetness from the fish with the extra bite of my lemon-garlic marinade. And, because I don’t care for scallops, I steamed a pound of shrimp in Old Bay. This is so easy that I’m not going to bother posting a recipe. Just do what I did…use the recipe on the side of the can. The only change I made was how much and what type of Old Bay I used. Instead of two tablespoons of seasoning, I used four of the original and four of the lemon-herb blend and mixed it with the vinegar and water. It came out fine.

The clams were perfect. Only a couple of duds that did not open and very little sand. The only thing I would have done differently is chop my herbs. I was lazy today, which resulted in clumps of parsley and herbs that built up like seaweed. But, the blend of flavors from the broth seasoned the clams nicely, and provided The Wife with her birthday dinner.

Clams Provençal
By Jared Paventi

  • 50 littleneck or Maine clams, rinsed
  • One stick (8 tbsp) butter
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 750 ml dry white wine
  • 16 ounces water
  • Handfuls of fresh parsley and basil, stemmed and chopped
  • Handful of kosher salt
Melt butter in a large stock pot over high heat. When the butter begins to brown, add garlic, lower heat to medium-high and stir with a large wooden spoon.Cook 5-6 minutes. Add lemon juice, wine, water, salt and herbs, cover and bring to a boil. Add clams, cover and cook 6-7 minutes. Uncover and begin removing opened clams, allowing closed clams to cook longer. This process should take a few minutes, giving the shy clams more than 10 minutes to cook in the broth. The best estimates say that 10 percent of every batch will not open, so expect to lose 5 of every 50 clams.
Broiled Marinated Scallops
By Jared Paventi
  • 1 pound scallops
  • 12 ounces lemon juice
  • Dash of olive oil
  • Three cloves of garlic, minced
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
Preheat your oven’s broiler. Whisk together all ingredients but the fish in a small bowl. Add scallops, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, but up to 24 hours. Use a slotted spoon to remove scallops from marinate and set on foil covered pan. Insert pan on top shelf of oven and cook for 8-10 minutes, until scallops become opaque but before they brown on the outside.

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