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Roasted garlic and chilli clams, mussels with cider and white beans | James St

 THERE is a lot of talk in the media at the minute about not eating meat. However, buying and eating local meat is never a bad thing, in my view, as, because it has been reared locally it will have generated income for a local farmer, will have traceable provenance and neither the animal involved nor its meat will have travelled far.

But, being an island people, we also have an abundance of seafood, including first–class shellfish, the focus of this week’s recipes. And it’s worth noting that when buying ingredients for my clam and mussel recipes you can also support Northern Ireland seafood producers – while making delicious dishes, of course.

ROASTED GARLIC AND CHILLI CLAMS

(Serves 4)

2 bulbs of garlic, halved

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1 dried chilli

1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil

200g of unsalted butter, room temperature

2kg of clams, rinsed

60ml of dry sherry

1 small bunch of flat leaf parsley, destalked and chopped

black pepper

Preheat the oven to its highest setting. Place the garlic, chilli and oil in a small roasting tray and cook through – you want the garlic roasted to a puree consistency before you use it.

Once cooked, squeeze out the garlic from its skin and place in a bowl with half the butter, mixing until combined. Finely chop the roasted chilli and add to the butter and garlic mixture.

Next, cook off the clams – for this, you will need a pan with a lid. Before you cook the clams it is always best to run them under a cool water and discard any broken ones, the same way you would prepare the mussels.

Place the pan on the hob, add in the remaining butter and soften. Then add in the clams, the sherry and place on the lid and cook for a couple of minutes or until all the clams have opened. Add in the butter and garlic mix, cook on heat for a further minute and shake.

Serve on a platter with a chopped flat leaf parsley, a seasoning of black pepper and a fresh baguette.

MUSSELS WITH CIDER AND WHITE BEANS

(Serves 2)

500g of mussels

1 leek

1 clove of garlic, fine chop

75g of butter

100ml of dry cider, try one of the local brews

100g of cooked white beans, butter beans work the best

½ a lemon, juiced

1 bunch of parsley, destalked and chopped

Start by washing all the mussels under the tap and discarding any that are broken, removing the stringy bits.

Slice and wash the leek and place in a pot with the garlic and butter, sweating down until they are soft. Add in a pinch of salt when cooking. Next, add in the mussels and cider and cover with a lid. Cook on a medium heat until all the mussels are opened. Discard any mussels that do not open.

Add in all the beans and cook off for a minute. Taste the juice and season with salt and pepper and add a squeeze of lemon. Serve with fresh parsley.

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