Sometimes the most simple dishes are the most enjoyed dishes. This is one of those dishes, simple, yet satisfying and savory.
I started with four dozen clams and four dozen mussels. The first and possibly most important step is to clean the mussels and clams well. Most of them time, the outsides are pretty clean when you buy them. If not, scrub well and rinse under cold water.
Next, fill the sink with cold water and submerge the clams and mussels. Sprinkle in about a half cup of cornmeal. Let soak for half an hour or so. I dont’ remember who taught me this trick, but by adding the cornmeal, the clams and mussels eat the cornmeal and expel any sand remaining in them. After a half hour, drain, rinse well, a refill the sink with cold water. Allow them to soak for at least another half hour. If soaking longer, change the water every half hour or so. I like to soak mine about two hours to make sure there is no sand remaining. Nobody like gritty clams and mussels!
Into a steamer pot over high heat went a bottle (yes the whole bottle) of Niagara wine. I will only cook with wine I will drink, this one was one of our favorites from a local winery. Into the liquid add one head (head not clove) of garlic that has been thinly sliced. Also add a generous bunch of fresh herbs. I used oregano, thyme and basil from my herb garden.
Next, put the clams and mussels into the steamer basket and insert into the pot. Steam until all the mollusks are completely open, about ten to fifteen minutes. If there are any that do not open, do not eat them!! Throw the unopened ones away!!
Place some clams and mussels into a bowl, scoop some of the broth over them and serve with garlc bread for dipping.