1 50-count bag fresh little neck clams
natural sea salt (not iodized)
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion; diced
1 small pepper; diced
2 stalks celery; diced
4 cloves garlic; minced
1 cup white wine (or 1/2 cup of vodka if there isn’t an opened bottle of wine on hand)
6-8 cups fresh tomatoes; diced (or a box of crushed tomatoes)
1 cup water
2 Turkish bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
The most difficult part of making this delicious stew is cleaning the clams. Place the clams in a large bowl/basin, cover with cold water and sprinkle with natural sea salt (not iodized) and let them soak while preparing the onions, peppers and celery. *Wash hands with warm soapy water after each time that you touch the raw clams to keep the kitchen and utensils sanitary.
Preheat a large stock pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, onions, peppers and celery. Cover and sauté. Meanwhile, transfer the clams to another bowl/basin and adding water and sea salt. Rinse the grit out of the first basin and reserve for future rinses.
Mince the garlic, add to the onion, pepper and celery and saute another minute. Add the wine and simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, transfer the clams to the other bowl/basin and add water and sea salt. Rinse the grit out of the first basin and reserve for yet more rinses.
Prepare the tomatoes, add them to the pot, cover and simmer until the tomatoes break down. Meanwhile, scrub each clam with a brush and transfer to the fresh basin. Cover the now scrubbed clams with cold water and sprinkle with salt.
Add 1 cup water, the bay leaves and pepper to the pot, stir and continue to simmer. Continue rinsing the clams until there is no remaining grit in the bowl/basin.
Add another cup of water to the stew, bring the stew to a boil on high heat and add the clean clams when it is at a rolling boil, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Stir the stew checking the clams to see if they are open(ing). I needed another 5-10 minutes for the clams to open so replace the lid if needed and continue to cook. If the clams are not cooked through put the stirring spoon in the sink for sanitary reasons.
Serve this stew with a large bowl to discard the shells, bread, cheese and crackers. Note that there is no salt added to the stew because there is usually enough salt from the seafood.