- 2 lbs Manila clams
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ large yellow onion, diced
- 1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced – reserve the fennel fronds
- Pinch red pepper (optional)
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 link mild or hot (according to your preference) Italian sausage
- 1 cup vegetable, seafood, clam or chicken stock
- 4 teaspoons butter
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 lemon thinly sliced and seeds removed
- 4 fresh Roma tomatoes chopped into 1/2 –inch pieces
- Small bunch parsley
- Salt and pepper
- Loaf of crusty bread
- Place the clams in a large bowl filled with water and ice cubes for about 1 hour. This will allow the clams to expel any dirt and grit from their shells.
- In a medium heavy-bottomed stew pot over medium heat, drizzle a tablespoon or so of extra virgin olive oil and allow to warm. Add the diced yellow onion and sliced fennel. Also add a pinch of salt, a grind of pepper, the pinch of red pepper and the fennel seeds.
- Cover the pot and allow the onion and fennel to “sweat” as they release their water and soften (the salt is very important to this process).
- When the vegetables lose their crunch, remove the sausage from its casing with a knife and with your fingers, break the sausage into very small pieces and add to the fennel onion mix.
- Sauté the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until it’s lost most of its pink color.
- Add the stock, wine and butter and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, add the sliced lemon and tomatoes and reduce heat to low.
- Finely chop the reserved fennel fronds and parsley and add to the stew.
- Allow the stew to simmer for about 30 minutes until the lemon rinds have lost their bitterness and are edible.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, remembering that the clams will provide a little extra salt.
- Drain the clams from the bowl and add to the pot. Cook over medium heat until most of the clams open (about 5 minutes). Discard any closed clams.
- Ladle the mixture plus a good amount of broth into bowls and serve with sliced crusty bread. Provide a bowl for the discarded clamshells.