I can’t even begin to wonder what it is like to be pregnant. The whole process is amazing, but the food cravings fascinate me the most. I look at it as some sort of Iron Chef challenge to make something my 37-week pregnant wife will want to eat.
Ever since Abby found out she’s low on iron, I’ve also been interested in reading about what is important in a pregnant woman’s diet. Iron is vital for the production and maintenance of blood not just for the mother, but the new developing baby inside. After reading this the choice was clear that an iron-rich meal was in store for us on my Monday night off! Iron rich foods include red meat, liver, molasses, kidney beans, oysters and clams. After looking at this list, I decided we would enjoy sharing a big bowl of steamed clams with a baguette. Simple, quick and healthy.
My favorite clams to cook with are countneck clams. They are bigger than most clams, usually about 4 to 6 in a pound. My theory is that they can handle a wider range of heat a little better than smaller clams. They will have more bite to them as well as release more clam liquid into the sauce, which is what this is all about – the sauce!
Iron Chef Clams
1 1/2 pounds of clams, washed and purged
4 shallots, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 large or 3 baby leeks, thinly sliced
1 large or 3 baby fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
3 ounces prosciutto, sliced deli-thin and cut into thin strips
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup white wine
4 tablespoons butter
Add all vegetables, prosciutto and olive oil to a large heavy bottomed pot. Throw in a few big pinches of salt to help the liquid draw out from the vegetables. Cook over medium-high heat until the carrots are tender, approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Throw in the clams and wine to the vegetables and give it a good stir. Cover the pot and steam the clams until they open, approximately 3 minutes. Once they are opened, that means they are cooked. If they are being stubborn and remain closed, keep the cover on the pot and check again in a few minutes. When they open, remove just the clams with a tongs and set aside in a bowl.
Lastly, add the butter to the vegetable mixture and stir. Continue to cook for about one minute. Taste, and add more salt if necessary. Add the clams back to the pot. Serve in big bowls with baguette or toast and a squeeze of fresh lemon.