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Clams with Bacon and Sauerkraut

Servings: 2 people
Author: Adapted from Michael Symon's Playing with Fire by Michael Symon

Ingredients

  • A small drizzle of olive oil
  • ½ lb. thick fatty bacon, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded if desired and chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup sauerkraut, drained (store bought is fine)
  • 1 cup hard cider (you can sub beer, but do NOT sub regular apple cider - too much sugar)
  • 2 dozen littleneck clams, cleaned (see Recipe Notes)
  • Crusty bread, for serving

Instructions

  • Place a large, high sided skillet that has a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. When hot, add the bacon. Cook, stirring frequently, until crisped and the fat has rendered. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Pour off all but about 2 tbs of the bacon fat. Return the pan to medium heat and add the cumin seeds, jalapeno, and onion slices. Cook, stirring, until the onion is softened but not browned. Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds. Now add the sauerkraut and hard cider. Adjust the heat so the cider is just simmering. Stir just to evenly distribute then add the clams. Place the lid on the skillet and let the clams cook until they open. I like to check every few minutes and pull the clams as they open. That way, you don’t overcook anybody.
  • When all the clams have opened (discard any that do not, they aren’t safe to eat), place any early openers you’ve already removed back into the skillet. Shut off the heat. Add the bacon bits to the clams (or garnish as you serve) and spoon the clams plus all that tasty broth into 2 individual bowls. Serve immediately with torn crusty bread for sopping up the broth.

Notes

This recipe is adapted a bit from Michael Symon’s Playing with Fire by Michael Symon (duh), and I adapted it because he calls for cooking these clams literally in your fireplace. True story. To each their own and all, but that’s a hard no from me. Stovetops work fine, y’know? Otherwise, the only aspects where I messed with the original recipe were in wanting crispier bacon, so I crisped it and then added it back almost like a garnish, plus I chopped the jalapeno instead of slicing. And added garlic, because of course. Make sure you get hard cider, which may require a trip to the liquor store depending on which state you live in. I had to. You cannot sub regular apple cider, the sugar content is way too high. If you can’t find hard cider, an autumnal beer would work fine. A note on cleaning clams: when I bring them home from the store, I transfer them to a mixing bowl, cover with water and sprinkle a little cornmeal over top, then place in the fridge until needed. The clams “eat” the cornmeal and this helps with grit. Rinse thoroughly before cooking.