This recipe is adapted from The Summer Shack Cookbook by Jasper White (W.W. Norton, 2007). White says these serve 4 to 6 as an appetizer. The truth is, after making this recipe I actually ate the entire quantity myself in one frenzied sitting, and I wasn't even winded, although at least I didn't finish off the whole stick's worth of butter sauce. Let's compromise and say it serves two as a main dish. We'll assume you're reasonable people who eat nice salads and maybe some potato salad with your clams.
Makes 2 servings with about 1/2 cup sauce
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 large garlic cloves, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds little neck clams (about 24), well-scrubbed
Prepare a medium fire on grill.
To make the sauce, heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a 1-quart saucepan over low heat until it is foamy. Add the garlic and saute, stirring, until it is fragrant but has not colored, about 30 seconds. Add the white wine and heavy cream, increase the heat to medium-high and simmer to reduce by half, about 8 minutes. Add the remaining 5 tablespoons butter one piece at a time, whisking constantly until the sauce is shiny, emulsified and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the chives and season with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm until ready to serve.
Set up the clams on a vegetable or shellfish grate, or place them directly on the grill. Grill the clams, without turning them, until they pop open, 8 to 10 minutes. Set the grate on a platter or heatproof cutting board. Or, if you are not using the grate, immediately and carefully transfer the clams with tongs to the platter or plates. Use the tongs to pry off the top shells. Spoon 1 teaspoon sauce over each clam and serve immediately.