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Beer-Steamed Clams with Herb Butter

20 mins
30 mins
Courtesy Gail Simmons
20 mins
30 mins


Chili-Herb Butter
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, soften to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro, parsley, tarragon or dill
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 small serrano chile, seeded and thinly sliced or 1 /2 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
  • 2 cups Pale Ale or Hefeweizen beer
  • 4-5 pounds Oregon clams, such as littlenecks, scrubbed
  • 4 tablespoons Chili-Herb Butter (recipe above)
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, parsley, tarragon and/or dill
  • grilled bread, for serving

Chef notes

One of the greatest privileges of shooting in Portland was spending time on Oregon's majestic coast, which harvests some of the best and most sustainable seafood in the world. We feasted on local crabs, fish and clams and even took our cheftestants clamming and crabbing. Portland also happens to have a thriving microbrew culture so the beer selection on our time off from work was outstanding. Beer is the perfect vehicle for steaming clams and they naturally pair so well together. It's easy and bright, incredibly flavorful and reminds me of our wild "Top Chef" adventures by the sea.

Swap option: Use canola oil if desired. All uses of chilies are optional if you don't like heat. There are several herb options in recipe but feel free to experiment and use any fresh, tender herbs you have. You can use lime instead of lemon, and if you prefer mussels this dish is equally great with them. You just may need to cook the mussels a few minutes longer, depending on size.


For the Chili-Herb Butter:

Mix together all ingredients in a medium bowl. Serve immediately added to the clam broth and/or slathered on grilled bread. Or wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze for up to 3 weeks.

For the clams:


Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the shallot and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until shallot is tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and chili, and cook over medium heat, stirring to ensure the garlic does not burn, about 1 minute. Add the beer, bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute, then add the clams and any accumulated liquid. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover and steam the until they open, 6 to 8 minutes, shaking the pot a few times while the dish cooks to distribute the ingredients evenly.


Using a slotted spoon, transfer the clams to a large, shallow bowl (or individual bowls), discarding any that do not open. Add the Chili-Herb Butter, lemon zest and juice to the broth, swirling until the butter melts. Simmer to slightly reduce the cooking liquid, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if desired.


Slowly pour the broth over the clams (distributing it evenly if they are in individual bowls), stopping before you reach the bottom of the pot (to avoid any grit that may have settled on the bottom). Sprinkle with the chopped herbs. Serve with grilled bread and more Chili-Herb Butter to soak up all of the delicious juices.