Clean them and wash them from the sand in three or four waters; boil them and pick them out of the shells. To a pint of the fish put half-a-pint of fish stock, two ounces of butter, and some pepper and salt; add a spoonful of flour, stirred in gradually, and simmer over a slow fire until it is of a proper thickness; add a large spoonful of essence of anchovy, and one of mushroom ketchup.‡
Wash the cockles well and put them in a saucepan on the fire to open; this requires care, as, if they are left on long they become very tough; they should only just be warmed enough to make them open. The usual way of boiling them until they fall to the bottom saves trouble, but spoils the fish. Fry some bacon, then take it out of the frying-pan and keep it warm, and put a quart of cockles into the fat that flowed out of it. Fry the cockles for some time, stirring them . constantly, but do not brown them much; then add a tablespoonful of flour mixed in half-a-pint of water, or rather more, and a little pepper; let them stew in the frying-pan (shaking it frequently), until the flour is set. Serve them as hot as possible, and garnish with the bacon, or not, according to taste.
* 'Lady's Companion,' vol. i. † Ibid.
‡ Murray's 'Modern Cookery'.
The natives of the seigniory of Gower cook cockles in various ways; sometimes they fry them with ham. They also make excellent pies of cockles with chopped chives, a layer of bacon being placed at the bottom of the dish; or they fry the cockles with oatmeal and chives, or oatmeal alone; they also make of them an excellent and nutritious soup.
In Ireland, the common cockles are cooked in their shells over the fire, and eaten with oaten cake. The shells are separated by twisting them apart, and a little butter is put into the shell, which is then placed on the turf-fire till the fish inside is fried.
Mr. Blackburn, in his 'Travelling in Spain in the Present Day,' says, that one of the best dishes at Seville is composed of rice, pimentoes, cockles (including sand and shells), well boiled in oily gravy.