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While the boil is heating, clean the clams by scrubbing thoroughly and rinsing under cold running water. Fill the sink with cold water and swish clams back and forth to dislodge any sand and grit that may be caught in the necks. Rinse and repeat several times.
When the potatoes are almost fork-tender, add the clams, increase the heat to high, cover, and cook until the shells pop open, 6 to 8 minutes. Discard any clams that do not open.
Remove the strainer insert from the pot and drain the boil. Serve the clam boil on paper bags or newspapers. Pass the melted butter and bread.