The first time I made these clams was kind of by accident—which is actually how most of my recipes come about—I knew I wanted to make clams and I wanted to use jalapeño but I didn’t have much of a plan after that. I had onion and yellow pepper and I found some pancetta that I had frozen and the recipe started coming together. When I got to the point of steaming the clams, I decided that I didn’t want to use white wine and then I thought of it, tequila! So, I made myself a drink. Oh, and I added some to the clams.
These clams are so easy to make and the flavors are sort of traditional with a little twist—that’s where the tequila and lime come in. Since clams and pancetta are already old chums, I wanted to play off that but take it in a spicier direction. Wait, did I just say old chums?! Interesting. What I meant was, they go together, they like to hang out, they’re friends. You get it. I added the jalapeño and got that spice I was looking for.
I think people can be a little intimidated by clams and to be honest, I’m not sure why. They really couldn’t be easier to work with. All they need is a little cleaning to get rid of any extra sand that might be hanging around and then they cook up super fast. See? Easy little fellas. The way I like to go about cleaning the clams is to put them in a large bowl of cold water while you’re doing the rest of the cooking, change the water once after about 10 minutes and then rub the clams together quickly before draining and adding them to the pan.
This dish could easily be an appetizer or a light meal. If you’re making it a meal, I’d serve it with a side salad and some bread to sop up all that deliciousness that’s left in the bowl after you polish off the clams.
And, since you’ve already got tequila on hand, pour yourself a drink to go with those clams!
- Tequila Clams with Pancetta and Peppers
20 MinutesCook Time
15 MinutesTotal Time
- Level: Easy
- Servings: 4
- 2 Pounds Little Neck clams
- 4 Oz package cubed pancetta
- 1/2 Yellow onion, diced
- 1 Yellow bell pepper, diced
- 2 Cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Small Jalapeño, one half chopped and one half sliced
- 1/2 lime, juiced. Plus more wedges for serving
- 1/4 Cup silver tequila
- Parsley, roughly chopped
- Salt and Pepper
- Soak clams in a large bowl of cold water for 10 minutes, change water and soak again for another 5 minutes. Rub clams together lightly to remove any excess sand.
- Meanwhile, In a large sauté pan, cook the pancetta over medium heat until fat has rendered and the cubes are starting to crisp; About 5 minutes. Add the yellow pepper and the onion to the pan along with a pinch of salt and pepper, stir and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the chopped jalapeño and the garlic, stir and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the lime juice, stir.
- Drain the clams and add them to the pan, stirring to coat; about 2 minutes. Add the tequila to the pan and cover with the lid. Let the clams steam for about 5-7 minutes or until they have opened. Discard any clams that did not open.
- Divide the clams between four bowls and top with the jalapeño slices and parsley. Serve with lime wedges.