A cataplana is a hammered copper, hinged pot of Portuguese origin that resembles a clam shell. It is used to steam shellfish and can be used on the stovetop or in the oven. Besides being fun to cook in and a bit unusual, it also looks great hanging on a kitchen wall. I bought my cataplana in Portugal in 1986 after eating numerous versions of cataplana clams.
- 6 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 Tablespoon pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika)
- 1 Teaspoon red chile pepper flakes
- 1 Cup olive oil
- 8 Ounces pancetta
- 1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
- 2 Cups dry white wine
- 20 Manila or other small clams
- 1/2 Cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Salt, to taste
- Crusty bread, for serving
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process the garlic, pimentón, red chile pepper flakes, and ½ cup of the olive oil until it forms a paste.
In a bowl, pour the paste over the pancetta and let marinate for at least 1 hour. (You can marinate it overnight, if you wish.)
Heat the remaining olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the marinated pancetta, cover, and continue cooking for 10 more minutes.
Remove the lid and add the white wine. Replace the lid and continue cooking until the liquid has reduced by ½. Add the clams and cook, covered, until all the clams have opened, 4-5 minutes. Discard any unopened clams. Top with the parsley and season with salt, to taste. Serve in warmed bowls with lots of crusty bread.