Drunken Cockles

Drunken Cockles



Cockles have a pretty longstanding association with Dublin, thanks to Molly Malone. Every schoolchild in Ireland (and Denmark apparently) learns it in school, although the bit about her being a lady of the night on the side is usually glazed over. I didn’t realise it had such international appeal until I came across a busker singing it at Dupont Circle on my first night in Washington DC last week.  You don’t see cockles much in Dublin these days, possibly due to the rumour that they were in fact the cause of Molly Malone’s death, but you can visit her decidedly voluptous  statue instead (nicknamed ‘the tart with the cart’ in true Dublin fashion).

I’ve actually only spent about a week of the last month in Dublin, so this recipe actually comes from my recent time in Holland, and combines Dutch cockles with spicy Turkish lamb sausage. Lamb and seafood may seem like an odd combination, but apparently it’s traditional in Wales, and does actually work well together, so bear with me. The recipe is adapted from Food 52. It serves 2 as a main meal with crusty bread, or 4 as a starter portion.



  • 500g cockles
  • 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 1/2 head of fennel, thinly sliced
  • 2 spicy lamb sausages, skins removed and sliced into small chunks
  • 250ml white wine
  • 150ml cream
  • Chopped fresh parsley (optional)


  • Soak the clams in a large bowl filled with salty water and leave for twenty minutes.
  • Strain and repeat this three times to get out all the grit.
  • Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan over low-medium heat and saute the shallot and fennel for 10-15 minutes until soft.
  • Add the garlic for the final three minutes.
  • Add the sausage meat, increase the heat a bit and cook until browned all over (about five minutes).
  • Add the wine and bring to the boil.
  • Add the cockles, cover with a lid and cook for five or six minutes until they are open.
  • Add the cream for the final two minutes of cooking.
  • Sprinkle with parsley and serve with some nice bread (you won’t need to season it, the cockles are very briney)

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