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White Beans With Clams

Alubias Blancas Con Almejas

ingredients

250 g alubias (Spanish dried white beans), or dried white haricot or cannellini beans, soaked for 24 hours or overnight
1 onion, halved
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 carrot, halved
1 fresh bay leaf
a sprig of parsley
a small pinch of saffron, soaked in 1 tablespoon boiling water
salt crusty bread, to serve

clams

125 ml dry white wine 36 small clams
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed 1 tablespoon sweet paprika (pimenton dulce)
1 medium dried red chilli, such as guindilla or chipotle, deseeded and roughly ground
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a medium-size piece of muslin

method

1. Drain the soaked beans and put in a large saucepan with 800 ml cold water.

2. Add the onion halves, garlic, carrot, bay leaf and parsley and bring slowly to the boil. When the froth threatens to boil over, splash 200 ml cold water into the pan to 'scare' the beans. Skim off the froth, return to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Splash another 200 ml cold water into the pan, return to simmering point, then continue cooking for about 1 hour until tender.

3. Remove the onion, carrot and parsley, add salt and cook for another 5 minutes. Drain over a bowl, then put the beans back in the pan with the saffron, its soaking water and 100 ml of the bean cooking liquid. Keep the lid on until ready to use. This stage can be done in advance.

4. To prepare the clams, heat the wine in a saucepan until boiling, add a little salt, then add the clams. Cook, covered, for about 2 minutes until they open (discard any that don't). Drain through a colander set over a bowl and cover the colander with a plate. Rinse out the saucepan, add the oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add the onion and garlic, cover and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes without browning. Stir in the paprika and a little salt and pepper.

5. Remove half the clams from their shells and discard the shells. Add all the clams to the onion mixture and carefully pour the clam liquid through a muslin-lined sieve into the pan, taking care to leave 1 cm in the bottom of the bowl because this may contain some grit. Heat the mixture just enough to warm up the clams.

6. Heat the beans and add the clam mixture. Ladle into heated soup plates. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with bread.

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