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To serve this dish as a main course for eight, double the recipe over two pots and throw some warm baguettes on the table.
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed or vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced into rings
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
- 1 4-inch piece kombu or 1 toasted nori sheet
- 5 pounds littleneck clams and/or mussels, scrubbed, mussels debearded
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Heat oil in a large wide pot over high. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until edges are blackened, 6–8 minutes. Let pot cool slightly, then add butter, garlic, arranging cut side down, and thyme and cook over low heat until garlic is golden and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add kombu, bay leaf, and stout and increase heat to medium-high. Add shellfish; cover pot. Cook, shaking pot often and transferring shellfish to a large bowl as they open, until all the shellfish are open, 5–8 minutes. Discard any that don’t open. Season cooking broth with salt and pepper. Divide shellfish among bowls; ladle broth over.