To infuse this simple clam dish with big flavour, we added Spanish chorizo, thyme, and dry vermouth for a potent broth in which to steam our shellfish.
We added larger-grain pearl couscous instead of traditional small-grain couscous, as it is the perfect vehicle for soaking up flavours and also adds textural appeal. Pearl couscous, also known as Israeli couscous, is about the size of a caper and is not precooked, unlike the smaller grains. It has a unique, nutty flavour that gives this dish just the right boost.
We like the punch that dry vermouth adds, but dry white wine will also work. Do not substitute regular couscous in this dish, as it requires a different cooking method and will not work in this recipe.
CLAMS WITH PEARL COUSCOUS, CHORIZO AND LEEKS
Start to finish: 30 minutes
2 cups pearl couscous
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced thin, and washed thoroughly
6 ounces Spanish-style chorizo sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
3 tomatoes, cored, seeded, and chopped
4 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
Bring 2 quarts water to boil in medium saucepan. Stir in couscous and 2 teaspoons salt and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes; drain.
Meanwhile, heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks and chorizo and cook until leeks are tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in vermouth and cook until slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes and clams, cover, and cook until clams open, 8 to 12 minutes.
Use slotted spoon to transfer clams to large serving bowl, discarding any that refuse to open. Stir couscous and parsley into cooking liquid and season with salt and pepper to taste. Portion couscous mixture into individual bowls, top with clams, and serve.