Makes 4 servings
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Total preparation time: 30 minutes
8 whole allspice berries
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large or 4 small dried bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 small onion (3 to 4 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 small to medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
One 6-ounce piece chourico, cut into 16 slices
One 14-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice, drained, juice reserved, and diced
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds small little neck clams (about 32 clams), scrubbed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
Working Ahead – the stew can be made completely ahead to the point where the clams go in; chill it quickly in a sink of ice water, then cover and refrigerate. To finish, bring the stew base up to a boil over medium heat, add the clams and proceed with the recipe.
Crack the allspice berries gently by crushing them under a small frying pan. Heat the oil in a cataplana or a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the allspice berries, bay leaves, and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bay leaves turn dark olive, about 1 minute.
Add the garlic and swirl it in the oil until golden brown on the edges, about 1 minute. Stir in the onion and bell pepper, increase the heat to medium-high, and saute, stirring frequently, until the bell pepper begins to lose its vibrant color, about 4 minutes.
Add the chourico and saute it until it begins to tint the vegetables brownish-red, about another minute. Stir in the tomatoes, with their juice, the wine, and black pepper and let the stew come to a boil at a leisurely pace. (No salt will be needed because of the natural salinity of the clams.)
Add the clams, cover tightly, and steam them for 5 minutes. Stir them quickly, cover the pot again, and steam for another 4 to 5 minutes, until all the clams are open. Stir in the chopped parsley and serve family-style in the cataplana or divide among four soup plates.