- 1 to 2 cups kosher salt
- 40 littleneck clams (3Â˝ to 4 pounds), scrubbed
- Freshly ground white pepper (if you only have preground white pepper, substitute freshly ground black pepper)
- About 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 loaf rustic bread, cut into twenty 1Â˝-inch-thick slices 6 garlic cloves, peeled
Grilling clams turns into culinary theaterâ€”everyone soon gathers around to investigate the aroma of the clams sizzling in a little olive oil seasoned with white pepper.
- Prepare a fire in a grill with both hot and medium sections. A grill is hot when you can hold your hand near the cooking surface for no more than a count of 2 before having to pull it away. For the medium section, you should be able to hold your hand near the cooking surface for at least a count of 4 before having to pull it away.
- Cover a large platter with a Â˝-inch layer of kosher salt, to hold the clams without tipping after opening. Open the clams (see box), setting each clam in its halfshell on the platter. The clams will cookâ€”and stay moistâ€”in their own juice, so preserve as much of this flavorful liquid while opening them as possible. Sprinkle the clams with white pepper and drizzle each with about Â˝ teaspoon olive oilâ€”donâ€™t measure, just drizzle lightly.
- To make the crostini, brush the bread slices lightly with olive oil. Place on the medium part of the grill and grill until toasted, a minute or two on each sideâ€”watch them carefully so they donâ€™t burn. Rub the grilled slices with the garlic and sprinkle with salt. Cut the crostini in half crosswise so you have 40 pieces.
- Using tongs, place the clams, in their shells, on the hot grill. Watch for the liquor and olive oil to boil. Allow the clams to boil until theyâ€™re just cookedâ€”depending on the temperature of the grill, this may be only a minute. Err on the side of underdoneness; if theyâ€™re a shade underdone, you can always put them back on the grill for a few seconds. Transfer the clams back to the platter. Serve the clams and crostini immediately.