What's in Season: Georgia Clams

Illustration by John Burgoyne
by Jenny Everett - Georgia - February/March 2012

Salty and plump, these clams are the pride of the Georgia coast

When chef Ford Fry was a kid growing up in Houston, his parents would pay him a dollar to eat a fresh oyster. These days no one has to bribe the owner and executive chef of JCT. Kitchen & Bar in Atlanta and No. 246 in Decatur to suck down bivalves, especially when it comes to Sapelo Island clams, harvested off of Georgia’s fourth-largest barrier island. At home or at his restaurants—he’ll open two seafood joints this spring—Fry likes to sauté the clams with sliced garlic, white wine, parsley, and a lot of butter. “Once they open, I pour the entire dish over good crusty olive oil toast to absorb all the clam goodness,” he says. The clams usually make their way into other Southern states, including South Carolina and Florida, but if you can’t find them at your local fishmonger, ask for the freshest, saltiest, meatiest clam available. For a cold-weather crowd-pleaser, Fry suggests a casual one-pot dish. “If you’re entertaining, clams would be fantastic in a Southern paella with Carolina Gold rice, smoked sausage, and head-on whole shrimp,” he says. “It’s dramatic and you don’t have to get up and replate. Just stick it in the middle of the table and enjoy your guests.”

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