Clams with Portuguese sausage, garlic, and cilantro is a beloved and ubiquitous dish throughout all of Portugal. Simple to prepare, the dish is made of sausage that’s sizzled in a skillet along with garlic and clams.
This classic Portuguese clams recipe juxtaposes briny clams and smoky chouriço in a garlicky, buttery, cilantro-y sauce that practically begs to be sopped and slurped. It’s all you need to make any night a special night—plus maybe a little (or a lotta) crusty bread for dipping and sopping and a glass of chilled Alvarinho or vinho verde.–Angie Zoobkoff
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Clams with Portuguese Sausage FAQs
Is it true that clams that don’t open during cooking are bad?
Not necessarily. As with all bi-valves, you’ll need to pay close attention when cooking clams. First, inspect your shellfish before cooking. They should all be closed. If any are open, give them a tap – they should close up, as they’re still alive. If your clam doesn’t respond to the tap, the best bet is to remove it from the others and toss it in the trash.
After your clams are cooked, most of them should be open. There may be a few still closed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are bad. Pry those open with a thin knife. If the clams smell and have the same appearance as the others, you’re in good shape. If there’s any odor or they appear shriveled, toss them out. Don’t take unnecessary chances with shellfish.
What is the best substitute for cilantro?
Fresh parsley will sit in nicely as a substitute for cilantro in most recipes.
Where can I find Portuguese chouriço?
Try your local international markets or higher-end butcher shops. If all fails, you can order online from our friends at Portugalia Marketplace, or even on Amazon.
If none of these options are available, you can substitute Spanish chorizo with similar results.
What’s the best type of clam to use for this recipe?
Littleneck or manila clams will work best in this recipe.
Clams with Portuguese sausage, Garlic, and Cilantro
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 1/2 ounces Portuguese chouriço* skin removed, sausage diced into small pieces
- 1 garlic clove thinly sliced
- 1 small bunch cilantro leaves and stems separated and finely chopped
- 14 ounces clams scrubbed and soaked in cold water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Lemon wedges to serve
- Storebought or homemade piri piri sauce to serve
- Crusty bread to serve (optional but highly recommended)
- In a large skillet over low heat, warm the oil. Add the chouriço and cook until crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook gently until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the cilantro stems, clams, and butter. Increase the heat to medium, cover the skillet, and cook, shaking the skillet occasionally, until the clams start to open, 4 to 6 minutes. Take care not to overcook the clams.
- Discard any clams that haven’t opened. Remove the skillet from the heat, toss in the cilantro leaves and stir a couple of times. Cover with the lid while transferring the skillet to the table. Serve with lemon wedges and piri piri sauce to taste, and plenty of crusty bread for sopping up the sauce.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This clams with chouriço, garlic, and cilantro dish is delicious. The tastes were superb. The combination of clams, chouriço, and cilantro with a wonderful broth is hard to beat. And the addition of the piri-piri oil was lovely.
I doubled the recipe and it served two of us along with a wonderful salad of mache, fennel, and orange. I served crusty bread to sop up the sauce—this is a necessity. We actually sipped the sauce, it was so good.
There is nothing like sitting by sea in the most beautiful day at the most beautiful place. That place for me is the south of Portugal and the little sea town of Armação de Pêra. The first time I visited Portugal, I fell in love with the food, especially the delicious bowl of clams I had, (cadelinhas) or small clams as they call them, in the most beautiful, delicate, succulent lemon-garlic broth. We sat there by the sea with just bread, a bowl of clams, and a few Portuguese beers.
Since then I have always made clams in my house to bring back those memories. When I saw this recipe for clams with chouriço, garlic, and cilantro, I had to try it. Just simple ingredients and, the best part, Portuguese chouriço.
When cooking, within seconds the smell made both my husband and I ready to eat. The portions would have been enough for 4 people as an appetizer. Since it was just the 2 of us, I made it our main dinner dish.
I was surprised at how much broth it made. I was worried that by not having wine or any other liquid there wasn’t going to be any broth to dunk the bread in because that’s the best part.
Second, I was concerned about the amount of cilantro. I guess this all depends on the size of one’s hand and therefore I was hoping it wasn’t too much. It really was not a lot, it was perfect.
The squeeze of lemon was the perfect amount and the chouriço made it salty enough so no salt was needed. The flavor had a subtle punch to it. The garlic, because it was sliced instead of chopped, made it so much more delicate.
I had made a simple salad and we paired this with a crisp and chilled Pinot Grigio. It was the perfect ending to a busy week. I will be making these again and again.
Originally published July 2, 2018