One of the best things about learning to cook from my family was the fact that none of our recipes were conventional. My dad loved to grill in our backyard, but instead of just burgers and hot dogs, we would often get gourmet Italian sausages from the local salumeria and all kinds of wonderful clams from the boats in Brooklyn. It was amazing to see these foods that I had just seen coming off of boats thrown on the grill, able to be consumed just moments later. Just the slightest addition of lemon or cocktail sauce made this one of the most cherished tastes of my youth. And please try your best not to spill the wonderful brine!
Technique tip: Discard any unopened clams after cooking.
Swap option: You can use cherrystone clams instead of littleneck.
Tap top of clams to make sure they are alive. If they are open prior to cooking, a tap will make them close. Any clams that do not respond are dead and should not be eaten.2.
Place clams in large container or a bowl with cool tap water and salt, and let stand 20-30 minutes.3.
Remove clams from water, rinse and scrub off any additional "gunk" there may be on the outside.4.
Place clams on the hot grill; making sure grate is level, and grill without moving 6-8 minutes. Carefully removed the clams using tongs or heat safe gloves, taking care not to spill liquid inside. If any clams do not open, discard them! They are dead and not fit for consumption.5.
Place clams on tray with slices of lemon and cocktail sauce on the side. To eat, squeeze lemon on top and spoon cocktail sauce, if using, on top of the clam in open shell and scoop out with your top teeth. Cocktail forks may be used but it is way less fun.