Why It Works
- Purging the clams guarantees sandy ones won't ruin the dish.
- The broiler provides intense top-down heat, cooking the clams and other ingredients quickly with a minimum of fuss.
Sometimes flipping on the broiler for a few minutes is the fastest way to get dinner on the table without having to toil over a hot stove and flaming burners. Here, the broiler's intensity is used to quickly brown garlic in olive oil, burst tomatoes, and cook briny clams just until they pop open. Before you know it, dinner will be on the table.
- Kosher or sea salt
- 1 dozen littleneck clams (about 1 pound)
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 8 ounces (225 grams) grape or cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup dry white vermouth (120ml)
- 2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup tarragon leaves (about 5g)
- Crusty bread, for serving
Fill a large bowl with cold water and stir in enough salt to make it salty like the sea. Add clams and let stand 20 minutes. Lift clams from water and discard purging water; if there is sand in the bottom of the bowl, rinse it out and repeat this process until clams no longer release sand into the water (usually 2 to 3 purging cycles).
Turn on the broiler and position the top rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler element. In a 9-inch cast iron pan, add olive oil and garlic. Broil for about 2 minutes, until garlic is slightly browned, but not burnt.
Add tomatoes and a large pinch of salt, tossing to coat. Broil until tomatoes have burst and some of their juices have spilled into the pan, about 4 minutes.
Add clams to the pan, nestling them between the tomatoes. Pour in vermouth and add butter in the center of the pan. Broil for 2 minutes, and then flip clams, baste with liquid and return to broiler until all clams have popped wide open, about 2 minutes longer (with an open-flame broiler, it's not impossible for the vermouth to briefly ignite; don't panic, just carefully blow out the flame and proceed). Broil for 1 additional minute after last clam opens, then remove from broiler. Baste clams once more.
Pour clams, tomatoes, and all of the juices into a deep serving bowl. Garnish with tarragon on top and let it stand for a 1 minute before eating so the anise-flavored herb has enough time to wilt and permeate the broth. Serve with crusty bread.