Chuck Williams’ Clams Algarve

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6

In the late 1970s Chuck Williams started visiting Portugal, where he visited a restaurant north of Lisbon that specialized in seafood dishes from the province of Algarve in southern Portugal. The waiter brought to the table a cataplana, a hinged copper cooking vessel shaped like a clamshell. Later Williams discovered this easy way to cook clams in a cataplana, but a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven works just as well. Find this and many of Chuck Williams' other favorite recipes in our limited edition version of Cooking at Home, which celebrates his 100th birthday.


  • 3 lb. (1.5 kg) small clams, well scrubbed
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • Dash of hot pepper sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 to 3 oz. (60 to 90 g) smoked ham, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 to 3 oz. (60 to 90 g) Spanish-style cured chorizo, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) dry white wine
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Discard any open clams that do not close to the touch. Set aside.

In a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions, hot pepper sauce, and salt and pepper to taste and sauté until the onions are translucent, 7 to 10 minutes. Do not allow to brown.

Add the ham, chorizo and wine. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook gently for about 15 minutes to blend the flavors. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the clams and scatter the parsley over the clams. Cover tightly and cook, shaking the pan occasionally and tossing the clams once or twice, until the clams open, about 5 minutes.

Discard any clams that did not open during cooking. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the clams to warmed soup plates or bowls. Spoon the broth, together with the ham and sausage, over the top of the clams. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

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