This first course is a regular feature on my pub menus. Serve with crusty bread on the side to soak up the savory juices.
- 4½ pounds littleneck clams
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces slab bacon, cut into thick 1½-inch chunks
- Few sprigs of fresh thyme
- Splash of dry white wine
- Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
Wash the clams and discard any that do not shut tightly when gently tapped.
Place a large, heavy-based pan (with lid) over medium heat. Add the oil, bacon, and thyme and fry until the bacon is golden brown around the edges, 4-5 minutes. Pour off excess fat, if you like. Increase the heat, pour in a splash of white wine, and immediately tip in the clams. Give the pan a shake, then cover. Let the clams steam until they have opened, 3-4 minutes. (Discard any clams that remain closed.)
Grind some black pepper over the clams and add a squeeze of lemon juice, if you like. You probably won't need to add salt, because the clams and bacon are already salty. Divide the clams, bacon, and pan juices among warm bowls and serve at once.