A clam stew to warm the cockles of your heart
The best clams for this recipe are the small kind, such as cherrystones or even littlenecks. If all you can find are the big ones, simply cut them after they are cooked. Prepare the clams by scrubbing them in bowls of cold water until there's no sand in the bottom of the bowl afterward. You don't want sand in your stew.
Clams are delicious no matter how you eat them. But when they are steamed, they generate a swell little bonus: a succulent broth. This makes your job easy.
A steamed clam has finished cooking when the shell opens, so it is important to remove each one from the pot as soon as it opens up. If you leave the early birds alone until the rest of the gang are done, they will end up chewy as a rubber band. Also, when you shuck the cooked clams, be sure to save the liquid from the shells and return it, along with the clams themselves, to the pot of broth.
This stew is meant to be served over grilled bread, but feel free to use rice or another grain or roasted potatoes instead. You need something to sop up all that yummy juice. And if you don't have a grill pan, just toast the bread and then brush it with olive oil.
Finally, if there are cilantro haters in your house, swap in parsley or basil. By the way, you can make this stew a day or two in advance, then gently reheat it. Add the cilantro (or parsley or basil) just before serving.
• Sara Moulton is the host of "Sara's Weeknight Meals," a public television show now in its seventh season. She writes a weekly column for The Associated Press and is the author of four cookbooks, including, most recently, "Sara Moulton's Home Cooking 101: How to Make Everything Taste Better."