In Italy, clams are as small as thumbnails and so flavorful that they hardly need any seasoning. Using the juice the clams give off as part of the cooking liquid for the rice imbues the risotto with clam flavor.
3 dozen littleneck clams (about 2 1/2 pounds)
8 1/2 cups water, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or other short-grain rice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh parsley (optional)
How to Make It
Put the clams and 1/2 cup water in a large skillet over medium-high heat; cover and cook for 4 minutes or until the shells open. Remove the clams from the pan, reserving the cooking liquid. Cool clams. Remove the meat from the shells, and set aside.
Bring 8 cups water to a simmer in a large saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat. Put 2 tablespoons olive oil, parsley, and garlic in a large saucepan; cook over medium-high heat until garlic sizzles. Add the rice, and stir until coated; cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in reserved clam liquid; cook until the liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly. Add water, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of water is absorbed before adding the next. Continue until rice is tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add clams; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil, and sprinkle with parsley, if desired. Serve immediately.
Note: To substitute canned clams for the fresh, use 3 (6-ounce) cans clams, undrained, and use 7 cups water.