PAN-ROASTED RAZOR CLAMS

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PAN-ROASTED RAZOR CLAMSAs much as we anticipate fresh corn every summer in the United States, in Italy it’s mostly milled into polenta or fed to livestock and rarely eaten fresh. The other distinctly non-Italian ingredient in this dish is piquillo peppers, which are associated with Spanish cuisine (although the combination of corn and peppers makes the dish vaguely reminiscent of the American Southwest).
The cooking method here, using a very hot cast-iron pan, is based on the Italian technique of cooking alla piastra (“on a hot griddle”), which gives the essential charred flavor to the corn.
For a more traditional treatment of razor clams, see Pepata di Cozzee Cannolicchi.

  • Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 025 cup olive oil
  • 05 small Spanish onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, 1 sliced, 1 minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 8 jarred or canned roasted piquillo peppers (see Sources), seeds discarded, 4 coarsely chopped, 4
  • thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 2 ounces hot soppressata, cut into ¼-inch dice (about ½ cup)
  • 5 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, toasted and ground
  • 2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt
  • Cayenne pepper
  • 4 ears corn, shucked and kernels removed (about 2 cups kernels)
  • 16 razor clams (about 2½ pounds), scrubbed
  • 025 cup dry white wine
  • 025 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
How to Make It
  1. To make the sauce: Heat a small heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and heat it until it is shimmering and almost smoking. Add the onions, sliced garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the onions are softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add the chopped piquillo peppers and cook, stirring, until warmed, about 2 minutes. Stir in the vinegar. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. Return to the pan, cover, and keep warm over very low heat.
  2. To make the soffritto: Heat a medium heavy pot over medium heat. Pour in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and tip and tilt the pot to coat it, warming the oil. Add the soppressata and cook, stirring, until it renders some of its fat, about 5 minutes. Add the shallots and minced garlic and cook until softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the ground spices, bay leaves, thyme, and the sliced piquillo peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are hot and the flavors have integrated, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice, season with salt and cayenne, and set aside. (The soffritto can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days; let come to room temperature before using it.)
  3. Heat a large deep cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, tipping and tilting the pan to coat it and letting the oil heat up. Add the corn kernels and cook, stirring, until lightly charred, about 8 minutes.
  4. Stir in the soffritto. Add the razor clams and pour in the wine, using a wooden spoon to loosen any flavorful bits cooked onto the bottom of the pan. Cover and cook until the clams open, about 5 minutes, shaking the pan gently to help them open. Use a slotted spoon to remove and discard any clams that have not opened.
  5. Divide the clams and corn among 4 plates and garnish with the parsley. Spoon some of the sauce around the clams on each plate and serve.
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