Clams with ‘Nduja, Corn, and Fennel

published Sep 3, 2022
summer
Clams with ‘Nduja, Corn and Fennel Recipe

Fennel pieces add a fresh crunch to balance all the deep savory flavors in this epic clam dish.

Serves4

Prep15 minutes

Cook20 minutes

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Photograph of Clams Fennel and Nduja recipe
Credit: Maria Do

I was partially raised in the Pacific Northwest, where I learned that clams are one of those deceptively elegant dishes. And while you may think that they’re more of a restaurant dish, I’m here to tell you that anyone can make them at home. For this recipe, I combine clams with summer corn, and my not-so-secret flavor-boosting ingredient: ‘nduja. Fennel, one of my favorite ingredients, is also here to add a sweet and cool flavor profile that complements the ‘nduja.

What Is ‘Nduja?

‘Nduja is a spreadable Italian ground pork sausage that has been spiced with Calabrian chile peppers. It’s savory, lightly spicy, and very versatile — and it melts into whatever you’re cooking, leaving tiny ground bits of seasoned pork. Add it to your next charcuterie board; spread it on pizza or focaccia; or stir it into pasta, mac and cheese, scrambled eggs, or even mayonnaise.

Substitutions for this Recipe

I always prefer fresh corn when making this dish. But if you are making it in the off-season, swap in frozen corn that has been thawed and drained. I like to use littleneck or manila clams, but you can also use cockles or mussels. If you are using frozen, it will take more time for the shells to open than the recipe states.

Clams with ‘Nduja, Corn and Fennel Recipe

Fennel pieces add a fresh crunch to balance all the deep savory flavors in this epic clam dish.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds

    littleneck clams or cockles

  • 1

    medium shallot

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 1

    medium fennel bulb, preferably with fronds

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 1/4 teaspoons

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 2 ounces

    ‘nduja (prosciutto spread, about 1/4 cup)

  • 1/2 cup

    dry white wine

  • 1 cup

    corn kernels, preferably fresh or thawed if frozen, divided

  • 4 (1-inch thick) slices

    toasted crusty bread, such as sourdough, for serving

Instructions

  1. Scrub and rinse 2 pounds littleneck clams or cockles.

  2. Prepare the following, adding each to the same medium bowl as you complete it: Coarsely chop 1 medium shallot and 2 garlic cloves. Pick the fronds from 1 medium fennel bulb and set aside for garnish. Halve the fennel through the root. Dice one half (about 1/2 cup).

  3. Thinly slice the remaining fennel half (about 1/2 cup). Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lemon until you have 1 tablespoon. Halve the zested lemon; cut one half into wedges for serving; reserve the remaining half.

  4. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the shallot mixture and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and sauté until tender and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 2 ounces ‘nduja and cook, breaking up the nduja with the back of a spoon, until it’s melted into small pieces. Cook until fragrant and the ‘nduja is browned and in small pieces, about 4 minutes.

  5. Increase the heat to high. Add the clams, 1/2 cup dry white wine, and 1/2 cup of the corn kernels. Cover and cook, occasionally shaking the pot or stirring, until the clams begin to open, 3 to 4 minutes. As the clams open, transfer them with tongs to a serving platter and loosely cover with aluminum foil.

  6. After all the clams are removed (discard any that haven’t opened after about 2 minutes more cooking), let the remaining liquid in the pot cook uncovered until slightly thickened and reduced, about 2 minutes.

  7. Add the reserved lemon zest and squeeze the juice from the half lemon into the pot. Stir to combine, taste, and season with more kosher salt as needed. Pour the juice over the clams. Garnish with the remaining 1/2 cup corn kernels, sliced fennel, and fennel fronds. Serve with the lemon wedges and toasted crusty bread.