Ameijoas na Cataplana

Portuguese Steamed Clams with Sausage

This dish is a specialty of the province of Alentejo. It is named after the copper cooking vessel with a hinged lid and shaped like a clamshell called a cataplana. We don’t have this special pan, but we’ve found that a covered saucepan works very well. We transfer the “cataplana” to a pretty terra-cotta cazuela and serve it with rice as a sort of Portuguese paella.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Linguisa or Chorizo, prepared or homemade
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 medium red onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, crushed, or ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups diced peeled fresh or canned plum tomatoes with their juices
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup julienned prosciutto
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley, plus additional for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
  • 2 bay leaves, coarsely crumbled
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 60 tiny Manila clams or 36 larger clams, scrubbed

Method

If the sausage is not in casings, break it up into chunks with your fingers and fry it in oil until lightly browned. If it is in casings, prick the sausages with a fork and bake in a baking pan at 400° about 20 minutes. Cut into 1-inch chunks. Drain the sausage chunks or pieces and save the fat.

Heat the olive oil and sausage fat in a large sauté pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the paprika and pepper flakes; cook a few more minutes. Add the sausage and remaining ingredients except the salt and pepper and clams. Simmer until somewhat thickened, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper but be careful with the salt because the clams will be steamed in the sauce and add salt too.

Just before serving, heat the sauce to boiling. Add the clams, cover the pan, and steam over medium heat until they open. Sprinkle with a little parsley and serve with steamed rice.