Steamed clams are never a bad idea. However you choose to prepare them, these brothy mollusks always seem to elevate any get-together to a full affair. This favorite clam recipe from the Charlottesville cookbook Hoos in the Kitchen: Recipes from the UVA Community by Melissa Palombi uses Bold Rock Hard Cider from Nellysford, VA, and the exciting combination of chorizo sausage and fennel to take steamed clams up a level. 

Hoos in the Kitchen celebrates the dynamic food and drink scene that surrounds the University of Virginia (UVA) and is comprised of recipes speaking to the university’s food connections, whether through UVA staff, alumni, student or community members. Palombi, who considers herself more curator than author of this collection of recipes, drives to give foodies an inside look at how the Charlottesville community eats together. 

This crowdpleaser of a recipe creates its own broth while it cooks with tart Bold Rock Hard Cider and white wine. Chorizo, a delicious, always-on-trend sausage found in Spanish and Mexican cuisine, adds some spice and meatiness to the clams. The toasty fennel seed, often used with sausage, is a must and adds floral notes. With a dish such as these Bold Rock Clams, the aromas are enough to keep people coming back for seconds. Try serving as a main course at your next dinner party or as an appetizer with crispy bread on the side. 

Cover of Hoos in the Kitchen cookbook

Hoos in the Kitchen celebrates the dynamic food and drink scene that surrounds the University of Virginia.

Check out the Wine & Country Shop for this, among other, cookbooks that let Virginia ingredients shine through. Hopefully, through delicious, community-based recipes like these exciting steamed clams, we can all come together to enjoy each other’s company and the all-around experience that farm-to-table dining provides.

Bold Rock Clams

Melissa Palombi, Hoos in the Kitchen
Steams Clams with Chorizo, Fennel & Bold Rock Hard Cider
Course Appetizer, Main Course


  • 2 dozen little neck clams
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 links chorizo, casings removed
  • 2 bottles or cans Bold Rock Virginia Hard Cider
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 pinch smoked paprika
  • Chopped fresh parsley


  • Brush the clams in cold water, remove grit and rinse in strainer.
  • Chop the onion and slice the garlic. Clean the fennel and remove the core. Slice the fennel bulb, saving fronds for garnish.
  • Heat olive oil in pan large enough to hold all clams with lid. Add garlic and onion to pan when oil is hot. Be careful not to let them burn. Once both have sweat, add chorizo and cook through. Add fennel, cook until tender or slightly caramelized. Add the Bold Rock Cider and white wine, and stir to loosen any bits from the pan. Add clams, and steam with lid on until they open. Once open, add pinch of smoked paprika and handful of fresh parsley and fennel fronds.
  • Serve immediately with a chunky piece of fresh bread to soak up the cider broth.
Keyword Bold Rock, Hard Cider, Seafood, Steamed Clams

Pairing Suggestions

Looking for a wine to pair with this Bold Rock Clams Recipe? Albariño wine—loved for its rich stone fruit flavors— is high in acidity, making it the perfect pairing for this clam recipe. The Albariño varietal is a friend to all things from the sea, especially white fish. It also pairs well with white meats and leafy greens. On the nose, one will find aromas of nectarine, lime and grapefruit, with subtle hints of honeysuckle and occasionally beeswax. While on the palate, it has mouth-watering acidity that finishes with salinity and sometimes a subtle bitter note.

Other pairing suggestions could be a dry rosé, a hard cider or a light-bodied red. For a wide selection of Virginia wines, ciders, beer and spirits, visit our Wine & Country Shop. And for more recipes, see our Food & Drink page. ~

FRANCESCA BLACK is an avid culinarian and Wine & Country Life content creator. She’s on a mission to create quality copy that helps bring new perspectives to the food and culture of Virginia.

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