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Classic Steamed Clams
Serve with some bread, or potatoes, and a pitcher of beer.

Ingredients:
4 celery stalks with leaves
1 bunch parsley
6 pounds soft-shell clams
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter (optional)

Directions:
1. Place 8 cups of water in a large, wide pot over high heat. Add the celery and parsley, and bring water to a boil. Add the clams, all at once (the water should not cover them). Cover the pot and cook until the clams swing open, about 5 to 10 minutes. Every 2 minutes or so, shake the pot gently so that the clams have even exposure to the heat. (Do not overcook.)
2. Using a skimmer or a large slotted spoon, place the clams in 4 large serving bowls. Strain the clam broth into 4 large mugs. Melt the butter, if using, and pour into 4 small dishes. Serve immediately.

This great pile of shellfish makes a terrific light meal. After the clams are steamed, each diner gets a mound of them in a bowl, a mug of clam broth, and a small dish of melted butter (if you wish). Serve some bread, or potatoes, and a pitcher of beer. If your steamers seem gritty, a few hours before cooking them you should fill a pot with water, add a cup of cornmeal to it, and place the clams in the water. This will force them to disgorge some grit. Serves 4