Clams in Spicy Tomato Andouille Broth
Clams in Spicy Tomato Andouille Broth is summer perfection when clams are plentiful, tomatoes are ripest and most flavorful, and it’s too hot to even cook on the grill. In the summertime, most of our dinners are cooked entirely on the grill, with some kind of salad assembly happening in the kitchen, then we eat outside on the patio or deck. Tonight, when I made these clams in spicy broth, it was HOT outside so I cooked in the air-conditioned comfort of my kitchen. This recipe is also wonderful to cook outside on the side-burner of a grill.
This dish is a one-pot wonder and I’m not even certain how I came about making it in the first place. My husband LOVES clams, and he likes to eat them simply steamed and then dipped in butter. The problems with this scenario are: a) I’m the cook; b) it takes Hella clams to fill up my hubs, he can eat dozens; c) generally, that’s just an appetizer and ain’t nobody got time for that. However, this recipe, with the sausage and vegetables and broth, paired with good bread and a simple salad or grilled corn on the cob is a complete meal, and that’s what I’m interested in.
I believe that I had something similar in a restaurant long ago and set out to re-create it, not realizing how incredibly easy the task was going to be. Honestly, I don’t think that you could mess this up. I guess you could burn them if massively neglectful, like went out to see a movie while they’re on the stove, but you could probably throw any vegetables into this covered skillet with clams and it would make some kind of brothy deliciousness. Have no fear. One thing is certain, that is whomever you cook it for is going to be impressed and disbelieving of how simple it was. (No need to give away the secret. You’re kind of a big deal.)
For this dish, I used andouille sausage, for meaty and salty spiciness; onions, garlic, tomatoes, lemon zest, thyme and basil for flavorful juiciness; and the clams for their briny broth. That is it. I’m not kidding. Those are all the ingredients. Basically, the sausage onions and garlic are first in the pot, given a quick 5 minute browning. Next, the tomatoes and seasonings for just a minute or two until they are very hot. Lastly, the clams jump in and the lid goes on the pot until the clams start to open up, about 10-15 minutes.
For equipment, you will just need a 5-Quart Saute Pan with a lid or medium sized dutch oven to make this. I’ve had this one for many years and use it very often for one pot stove top dinners. I also love that it’s oven proof (all glass and metal) so you can start out on the stove and put the whole thing in the oven to braise if you need to. The lid is glass so that you can see how the food is cooking, especially when it’s in the oven. If you don’t have one of these you can find a similar one here.
The variations on this dish could be endless. (Few rules, endless possibilities.) You could use any sausage, I have used lamb merguez for a special occasion dinner, pancetta or even bacon. You could add white beans, or other vegetables. Sliced fennel and/or carrots are perfect additions. You could also make this recipe with mussels or a combination of clams and mussels. I am definitely going to do a combo next time and add white beans.
As the clams open up, I take them out a few at a time and put them in a heat-proof serving bowl or other lidded pot, like this Le Creuset , pictured, keeping both lids closed as much as possible. Once all the clams have opened and are transferred to the serving bowl, carefully pour the broth with sausage and vegetables onto the clams and you’re ready to serve. It’s that simple. We had grilled corn on the cob with this dinner and it was perfect. A lovely, but completely unnecessary, potato salad was nearly untouched (except for a nibble out of sheer politeness).
A hearty grilled or toasted bread is a highly recommended accompaniment to this dish. It’s super-addictive when dipped into the broth so beware, you might eat a whole loaf of bread. At first, I had made this dish in hopes of avoiding the massive butter consumption that regular steamed clams called for. In reality, I traded half a stick of butter for half a loaf of bread. The bonus here is that there are definitely more nutrients in this dish from the added vegetables. (It’s science.)
Let’s stop this nonsense and go get some clams. I hope you enjoy!
- 50 middleneck clams, in shells
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 8 oz. Andouille sausage, chopped into small (1/4 -1/2 inch) dice
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 cup chopped sweet onion
- 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes (3 medium)
- lemon zest from half a lemon
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tsp fresh basil, chopped
- Bread for serving, toasted
- Wash the clams in cold water to remove all the sand and dirt. Reserve clams.
- Heat olive oil in a large saute pan on the stove until hot, but not smoking. Cook the andouille sausage, garlic and onion, in the oil, stirring, until lightly browned and softened, 5 minutes on medium-high heat.
- Place the tomatoes, lemon zest, thyme and basil in the pan and stir, cooking until steaming hot.
- Place the clams in the pan, stir to combine all ingredients. Place lid on pan. Turn up the heat a bit and cook until clams begin to open, about 10 minutes.
- Remove cooked (opened) clams from pan and reserve, covered, in a heat-proof serving bowl or dutch oven. Repeat until all clams are cooked.
- Pour broth, vegetables and sausage over the clams.
- Serve in shallow bowls with bread.
- Any kind of smoked sausage, or bacon, can be used for this dish if you don't want it to be too spicy.
- Littleneck clams would be fine, or mussels, or a combination.