Rinse the steamer clams aggressively in cold water several times to remove all of the grit. Drain the clams well after rinsing. Store them cold until ready to prepare. Do not store submerged in water.
Heat a large straight sided sauté pan with a tight-fitting lid
Add the olive oil to the pan over medium heat
Add the garlic and sliced pepper and sauté for one minute
Add the clams to the pan and allow to cook one minute before adding the clam juice and 6 ounces of the same beer that you intend to serve with the clams.
Bring the clam juice up to a boil and add the juice and zest of one lemon and the 2 TBSP of butter.
Place the lid on the pan and cook until all the clams open – about 3 to 4 minutes.
Place the clams in a large shallow dish with all of the cooking liquid and scatter the parsley leaves over the top. Serve immediately with melted butter for dipping.
New England steamer clams are not easy to find. Little neck clams or mussels will also work well with this same preparation.
Clams are a live seafood product that is highly perishable. Buy them on the day that you plan to use them if at all possible.
If you have a clam that is stubborn and does not open when the others do, it should be discarded.
Steamed clams pair very well with a cold beer.
New England steamer clams are great shared first course for a casual gathering.