Clams in White Wine Sauce (from The Ancestral Table)

As you probably read in my post from the other day, I’m knee-deep in recipe development and writing, in order to get my sophomore cookbook ready for release – which is a lot of fun, but leaves me with little time to keep up with blog recipes. So, I figured out a solution that’s good for both of us: I’ll just post a recipe from The Ancestral Table! I’ve been meaning to share more of these recipes anyway, and this one is a special favorite in our house. The wine sauce is the highlight of the dish, and it is absolutely, ridiculously, heartbreakingly delicious. One of these days I’ll figure out a way to batch-cook and sell this sauce for millions of dollars, but for now, here’s a bit more about the dish, stolen directly from the book (I can do that!):

While clams, wine, and butter are all delicious, the combination of the three is truly divine. This dish, developed in the Provençal region of France, is the quintessential marriage of these rich, decadent flavors. It is equally tasty when prepared with mussels.

Though wild and sustainably caught seafood is generally ideal, it’s better to buy farm-raised clams and mussels. They are raised on ropes suspended above the sea floor, which makes them less gritty than wild clams and mussels dredged from the ocean floor. Dredging up wild clams and mussels can also damage the ocean’s ecosystem.

Even though I’m mostly MIA for a bit, there are still ways to get your Russ Crandall fix (is there such a thing?), should you need it. Next week, I’ll be participating in the Virtual Ultimate Health Summit, which focuses on restoring your health through lessons on diet, sleep, energy, hormones, body image, confidence and stress. I am one of 16 panelists, and I’ll be talking about how history, food culture, and health can combine to find that perfect balance of tasty food and healthy diet, with an emphasis on safe starches (no surprise there, right?). It’s free to enroll, and runs for two weeks, so check it out!

Clams in White Wine Sauce (from The Ancestral Table)

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

4-5 lbs live littleneck clams (~50 total)
6 tbsp butter, divided
2 shallots, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup white wine
2 bay leaves
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp black pepper

1. Scrub the clams with a stiff brush and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Soak in cold water for 30 minutes, then drain and rinse again.

2. In a stockpot, melt 2 tbsp of the butter on medium heat for 1 minutes. Add the shallots and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds, then add the wine and bay leaves, reduce the heat to med/low, and simmer for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to marry.

3. Gently place the clams in the stockpot with a slotted spoon. Cover and steam on high heat until the clams open, 5-8 minutes. Remove from the heat. Keeping as much wine sauce in the stockpot as possible, take out the clams with tongs, place in a large bowl, and set aside. Add the cream, parsley, pepper, and the remaining 4 tbsp butter to the wine sauce and simmer over medium heat until the butter has melted, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour the sauce over the clams and serve.

17 thoughts on “Clams in White Wine Sauce (from The Ancestral Table)

  1. This is my favourite kind of cooking, simple and fresh! There is something magic about the combination of fresh seafood and white wine. These would be great cooked over a fire on a beach, just remember the cooler for the wine!

    James :)
    (The Breakfast Adventure Club)


  2. Russ, I didn’t know who to ask this question to and then your serendipitous blog post. I am not a big seafood fan though I’m trying to learn to eat it for it’s nutritional value. I don’t know the first thing about buying muscles. I don’t want to just try them and risk not liking them forever because I didn’t know what to get. Are canned or frozen muscles worthy of buying? – I’ve only ever eaten frozen shrimp and I like them very much. I’m hoping muscles are like that. Another complication is that I currently strayed from PHD to follow the auto immune protocol. I haven’t reintroduced milk products yet. I’m not overly fond of coconut milk but I will use it. the other milk I could use is tigernut milk which is more nuetral and delish IMO. I can use ghee. I’m not asking you to recreate this dish but just give your thought if you care too.


    1. Hi Heidi, I would stay that your first experience with mussels should be with fresh mussels. Frozen mussels often have a mealy texture and canned will be very strong tasting. They are relatively cheap, and I would recommend buying farmed mussels since they likely won’t have any sand in them. Be sure to debeard the mussels – it’s easy, here’s a great post on them:

      In terms of recreating this dish, if you are okay with white wine, then I would make it just with ghee, wine, and garlic. Maybe through in a bit of tigernut milk at the end, although I’m not familiar with how it tastes (I’ve read good things, though). It’ll still be very tasty!


  3. Hi Russ!
    I have been eating Paleo for five years and after I have read “Perfect Health Diet” I was including some “safe starch” in my diet. Now I have read that rice contains arsenic. What do you think about that, can I still eat it as a safe starch? (maybe it isn´t so safe) I have just bought your book “Ancestral Table”, wonderful recipes !
    I like that you have international recipes, and not only “American”.



    1. Hi, glad you like the book! White rice has much less inorganic rice than brown rice, and rice grown in California, Thailand, and India have lower levels of inorganic rice compared to the Southern US and China. Basmati has even lower levels, and Calrose (medium grain, used for sushi) isn’t that bad, either. Here is a pretty good chart showing the inorganic arsenic levels in some common US brands (organic white basmati appears to be the best):

      Plus a newer report that says adults eating white basmati or sushi rice 4x a week are still below suggested levels of inorganic arsenic:


  4. Delicious! I have Ancestral Table but I’ve never cooked clams or mussels at home before. I think it’s a mental thing as they’re always presented in a fancy setting but everyone says they’re quite easy to cook. Anything with garlic + white wine is a winner in my book, so I look forward to finally getting up the nerve to try these!


  5. Really smart and fine! Adding heavy cream always makes the difference, whatever you cook… Eating this meal with a Budweiser also makes the difference, haha!


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