Mussels and Clams with Pancetta and Kale


The Portuguese are masters with both seafood and kale, and this recipe combines both in an earthy, rustic stew. To boost the depth and complexity of flavors, we've married pancetta with aromatic fennel, onion, and garlic, but you could substitute bacon or sausage if you prefer. If possible choose organic dino kale (variously known as dinosaur kale, Tuscan kale, lacinato kale, or cavolo nero), which is sweeter and more tender than other varieties. Regular curly leafed kale will require a longer cooking time. Serve the stew in shallow bowls with lots of crusty bread to soak up the broth.


1 pound organic dino kale (center ribs removed)
1/4 cup oilve oil
4 ounces finely chopped pancetta or bacon (about 2/3 cup)
1 large fennel bulb (cut into 1/4-inch dice, about 1 cup)
1 medium yellow onion (cut into 1/4-inch dice, about 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
4 large cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (chopped)
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
2 pounds Manila clams (scrubbed)
2 pounds small black mussels (scrubbed and debearded)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup minced fresh Italian flat leaf parsley


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat and cook the kale for 3 minutes. Drain immediately and let cool. When the kale is cool enough to handle, lightly squeeze out any excess water. Slice the kale into 1-inch strips and set aside.

Place a large, deep skillet over medium heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, cook the pancetta, stirring occasionally, until it is crisp. Set a fine-meshed sieve over a small bowl and drain the pancetta. Set the pancetta aside and return the oil to the skillet.

Cook the fennel, onion, and red pepper flakes in the oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the reserved kale, pancetta, garlic, and thyme, and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 more minutes.

Add the wine to the skillet and increase the heat to high. Add the clams, cover the pan, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the mussels, cover the pan, and cook until the shellfish have opened, 2 to 4 minutes more. (Discard any shellfish that remain closed.)

Stir in the butter, then divide the shellfish and broth among heated bowls. Sprinkle each serving with parsley and serve immediately.


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