Why This Recipe Works: For a one-pot paleo meal with big flavor, we turned to briny-sweet littleneck clams, which are simple to prepare and cook quickly. To create a potently flavored bath to steam the clams, we added smoky bacon, juicy tomatoes, and plenty of spices. For a heartier final dish, we also added kale. The large pieces of kale broke down during cooking, becoming soft and absorbing some of the flavorful liquid from the pot. Starting with a Dutch oven large enough to eventually hold the clams, we rendered our bacon until it was browned and crisp. We reserved the crunchy bits of bacon for serving and used the remaining fat to soften the onion. Then we stirred in tomato paste for depth, garlic for its pungency, oregano for its peppery bite, smoked paprika for its unique flavor, and cayenne for heat. After blooming our spices, we added the tomatoes and kale to the pot so they could begin to break down; we also added half a cup of water to ensure there would be plenty of liquid to steam our clams. Once the kale was tender we cranked the heat to high and stirred in 4 pounds of littleneck clams, covered the pot, and allowed them to cook undisturbed for a few minutes. We gave the pot a stir and kept cooking a few minutes more while we waited for the clams to open. To add some finishing touches, we added parsley for a bit of freshness, sherry vinegar to cut through the pungent spices, and olive oil for a rich fruitiness.
Before cooking, discard any clams with an unpleasant odor or with a cracked shell or a shell that won’t close. To scrub clams, use a soft brush to scrape away any bits of sand trapped in shell.
6 slices thick‐cut bacon, cut into 1‐inch pieces
1 onion, chopped fine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
5 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, cored and cut into 1‐inch pieces
1 pound kale, stemmed and cut into 1‐inch pieces
1/2 cup water
4 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon extra‐virgin olive oil
1. Cook bacon in Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel–lined plate.
2. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot. Add onion and cook over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, garlic, oregano, paprika, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, kale, and water, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Increase heat to high. Stir in clams, cover, and cook for 3 minutes. Stir clams thoroughly, cover, and continue to cook until clams have opened, 2 to 4 minutes. Discard any unopened clams. Stir in crisp bacon, parsley, vinegar, and oil. Serve.
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