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Grilled Littleneck Clams With Lemon-Caper Butter

Live littleneck clams are encased in tightly shut shells. Discard any clams with loose or partially open shells. Prior to grilling, store clams in a bowl covered with a moist dishcloth or paper towel in the refrigerator, where they will remain alive for several days.


  • 36 littleneck clams in shells (about 2-1/4 pounds total)
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
  • 1 teaspoon finely snipped fresh tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers, coarsely chopped

Scrub clams under cold running water. In 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven, combine 4 quarts cold water and 1/3 cup salt. Add clams; soak 15 minutes. Drain, discarding water. Rinse clams. Repeat soaking, draining, and rinsing two more times.

Meanwhile, in small bowl stir together butter, lemon peel, tarragon, and pepper. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until well mixed. Stir in capers.

For charcoal grill, grill clams in single layer on rack of uncovered grill directly over medium-hot coals 5 to 8 minutes or until clams open at least 1/2 inch, turning once halfway through grilling. Remove clams as they open and keep warm while others cook. (For gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium-high. Place clams on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as above.) Discard any unopened clams. Serve clams with butter mixture. Makes 4 servings.