Ingredients For Clam Stew With Polenta
1 kg (vongole) clams from Walter Purkis & Sons
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 freshly chopped red chilli or dried chilli flakes to taste
400 g 1 can of chopped tomato or passata
125 ml dry white wine
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, leaves roughly chopped
1 handful fresh basil leaves roughly chopped
2 teaspoons salt
200 g (7 oz) fine polenta
Bottarga from Walter Purkis & Sons (optional)
Cooking Method For Clam Stew With Polenta
Rinse the clams quickly under water, weed out any with crushed shells (tiny chips or cracks are usually fine) or that are open and don’t move when touched or squeezed. (Rule of thumb: if they are open before cooking, they’re dead. If they don’t open after cooking, they’re dead. Throw them away).
For the clam stew heat the garlic gently in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the chilli and the tomato, along with about 250 ml of water, and season with salt. Let it simmer for 30 minutes or until slightly reduced.
To prepare the polenta, bring 1 litre of water to the boil in a deep, non-stick pot, add the salt (or grated bottarga) and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Pour in the polenta slowly while stirring (I like a wooden spoon, others like a whisk) to avoid lumps; stir for 1–2 minutes until the mixture thickens.
Turn the heat down to the lowest setting possible and cook gently, covered (but giving a vigorous stir every 4–5 minutes) until it is creamy and silky and it begins to come away from the sides of the pan. It’s useful to have a small saucepan of simmering, salted water nearby to add in spoonfuls if the polenta looks too thick or lumpy when stirring. Taste it too – the polenta should be completely soft, with no bite to it, at about 45 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap, ensuring that the plastic is touching the entire surface so that it doesn’t develop a skin. Set it aside while you prepare the clams.
Polenta should be well salted, but for some good seafood flavour you can add some grated bottarga to the polenta instead of salt.
Photography © Lauren Bamford & Emiko Davies