Clams with peas and fino sherry

Serves 4

Fino is a dry sherry that works well with clams; it likes chilli, for it gives it a warm kick, and marjoram and garlic enhances its flavour even more.

800g/1¾lb very fresh clams
300g/10oz fresh peas
1 small bunch of marjoram
1 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 dried red chilli
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
300ml/pint fino sherry
100ml/3 fl oz dry white wine
1 medium-sized bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, roughly chopped
50g/2oz unsalted butter
A little salt and some freshly ground black pepper

Start by rinsing the clams under cool running water, then set aside while you cook the peas.

Pour the peas into a heavy-based saucepan and add a good pinch of salt, a little marjoram and just enough water to cover. Place over a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, by which time the peas should be really soft and a pale olive-green in colour. Drain.

Place a separate saucepan, large enough to add all the ingredients, over a fairly low heat and, when the base is warm, add the olive oil and onion.

Turn down the heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time before adding the rest of the marjoram, the chilli and the garlic, along with a pinch of salt. Continue to cook for a further 15 minutes over a low heat.

Now add the clams, the fino and wine, and place a firm-fitting lid on top. Turn the heat to high and cook the clams until they ease open – shake the pan from time to time to help them along.

Once all the clams are open (discard any that have not), add the peas, parsley and butter. Taste, and add a little salt or pepper if you think it needs it, and serve in warm bowls with bruschetta or warm, peasant-style bread.

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