Steamed Clams with White Wine, Garlic and Butter

When my husband and I first met, one of our favorite date night spots was the classic, iconic-by-local-standards Blue Point Restaurant and Oyster Bar in beautiful downtown Wayzata. We enjoyed countless bowls of steamed clams there over the years, among many of their other dishes.

After almost 30 years of serving both surf and turf like nobody’s business, the restaurant closed recently. The unexpected announcement came out the very day they planned to close, and jaws dropped as word quickly spread. I’ll never forget the “social media firestorm” that ensued that day – notes, messages and texts flew from friend to friend, hoping to find someone who knew what was going on. You couldn’t put a price on that kind of publicity.

And they didn’t.

They just graciously welcomed the many heavy hearts that walked through their doors that final Thursday. And then, after a day filled with reminiscing and tears, for reasons still known, the lights in the windows that for so many years called us all in for lobster, oysters and cocktails went dark.

Blue Point had a beautifully briny, old school East Coast supper club feel – complete with white jacketed servers. By today’s standards, it was a little tired. But that’s what made it special. The gorgeous wood floors were aging – gracefully if you appreciate that kind of thing. After decades of wear from the hautest high heels and custom wingtips, and undoubtedly – given its upscale Lake Minnetonka location – more flip-flops and Docksides® than could ever be counted, those floors could probably tell a few stories. And, there are probably more than a few folks who are very glad the floors won’t be giving up their secrets anytime soon.

If you were lucky enough to nab a window seat for happy hour, you got to enjoy some extra people watching while you sipped your fabulously over-poured glass of house wine.

The servers greeted guests with napkin-wrapped bowls filled with great big chunky slices of soft, fresh-baked, ever-so-slightly crusty bread – generally a white and/or a wheat, along with their indescribably delicious dark brown raisin bread.

They served a refreshingly “Assertive” Caesar salad. They also rocked a deceptively flavorful Roasted Root Salad. And the oysters on the half shell were, of course, quintessential.

Oysters at Blue Point Restaurant - Wayzata, MN | Steamed Clams with White Wine, Garlic and Butter recipe from BaconFatte.com

Although the restaurant is no more, memories of happy hours with friends, important business dinners, and nervous high school prom dates alike will live on in the hearts of long-time Wayzata residents and visitors for years to come.

One of our favorite Blue Point memories is of their delicious steamed clams dish. They were served in a simple white, shallow bowl. The combination of perfectly cooked clams in a buttery white wine broth laden with minced garlic was as old school classic as could be, and it was utterly divine.

Steamed Clams with White Wine, Garlic and Butter | BaconFatte.com

I’ve always loved seafood, but our many dinners at Blue Point inspired me to learn more about cooking seafood at home and I’ve absolutely loved every minute of it. I started playing around with recipes for mussels and clams hoping to recreate some of the flavors we enjoyed so much at the restaurant. Thankfully, I’ve been able to come pretty close.

Steamed Clams with White Wine, Garlic and Butter | BaconFatte.com

For us, this simple, hometown restaurant-inspired dish channels the ambiance of that little Alpine fireplace next to the bar, the bright orange polka-dotted sailfish on the wall, and the locals who provided even more warmth and color than the aforementioned. For these reasons and more, this Steamed Clams with White Wine, Garlic and Butter will always be one of our favorites.

Steamed Clams with White Wine, Garlic and Butter | BaconFatte.com

If you you’re a clam connoisseur, you know it’s hard to beat this classic preparation.

If you’ve never cooked clams or mussels at home, I really hope you’ll give this recipe a try. I know it can seem a little intimidating at first, but {here} are some tips and tricks that will help you learn how to buy, store and prepare fresh clams. Most of those tips go for mussels as well.

The amount of clams you’ll need depends on the number of people you’re feeding and the other things on your menu. Most sources suggest ¼ – ½ pound of clams per person as an appetizer, and a full pound per person as a main course.

Steamed Clams with White Wine, Garlic and Butter | BaconFatte.com

This Steamed Clams with White Wine, Garlic and Butter recipe is easy to make, flexible, and ultimately, comfortingly delicious. Whether you enjoy it as a quiet dinner for two, or serve it family style as the ultimate “party platter” for a group of friends, it always seems to have a special, celebratory feel.

Enjoy!

Steamed Clams with White Wine, Garlic and Butter
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Recipe from:
Serves: Serves 2 - 8
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds of fresh clams (i.e., Countneck or Cherryneck clams), cleaned
  • 1 - 2 loaves of fabulously crusty baguette
  • 6 tablespoons salted butter
  • 4 - 6 cloves (or more) fresh garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • Handful of fresh Italian parsley, chopped, for garnish
Preparation
  1. Melt 6 T. butter in a large, covered pan over low heat
  2. While butter is melting, finely chop 4 - 6 cloves of garlic (or more, if you like!); sauté garlic in the melted butter for a minute or two - just until it becomes fragrant.
  3. Increase heat to medium and add 2 cups of dry white wine to the pan; stir and allow to simmer gently (uncovered) and reduce slightly for about 10 minutes while you clean your shells.
  4. Gently add cleaned shells to the pan, cover and allow to steam in the broth for 5 - 6 minutes (allow slightly less time for smaller shells, and slightly more time for larger ones).
  5. Slice baguettes and set out a big platter with plenty of room for the cooked shells and broth.
  6. Place cooked, open shells (discard any that remain closed) and broth onto the platter and arrange bread slices around the outside; garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Provide a large serving spoon and small bowls to serve, and a large bowl, or individual bowls, for the empty shells.
  7. Serve with slightly chilled Sauvignon Blanc.
Cook's Notes:
Recipe can be doubled or tripled - just add more cooking time to allow the broth to come together and the shells to cook, or prepare in batches.

 

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Steamed Clams with White Wine, Garlic and Butter | BaconFatte.com

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