Saturday, June 17, 2017

Clams Casino

Clams casino is a clam on the half shell with breadcrumbs and bacon. The dish is popular with Italian-Americans, and when I was growing up it appeared regularly on the menus of every trattoria near and far.

Julian's Clams Casino ready for garnishing.
According to Good Housekeeping Great American Classics, the recipe for clams casino was originally developed in 1917 at the Little Casino in Narragansett, Rhode Island, by maître d'hôtel Julius Keller for Mrs. Paran Stevens who requested something special for her guests.  During this period in American history if a restaurant wanted to be noted, it came up with a dish that involved the baking of shellfish, and many did. However clams casino and oysters Rockefeller are among the few surviving dishes from this trend.

I've got my small clams on an escargot plate to hold them steady.
Preparing the Clams:  Before you try making this dish, watch a few of the online videos and read this step-by-step instruction on how to properly clean and shuck your clams. I do mine from the back the same as the guy in the video link I provided, but both methods work. It takes a little practice. Also consider how you will bake and serve the clams. As the bottoms of the shells are rounded, they don't sit easily and you don't want them to tip. Above I'm using an escargot plate. Anything with an indention will do, even a bed of salt (for cooking and serving) or seaweed (for serving only).

Clams Casino

The recipe makes 12 clam servings. If you are using them as an appetizer, than two-three per person is likely sufficient. 

Ingredients
Clams ready for fillings with clam juice preserved. 

4 slices bacon
12 large clams

1/4 cup minced shallot or onion
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons butter

1/4 teaspoon paprika
Chopped parsley for garnish

In a small skillet, cook bacon until crisp over medium heat. Crumble, and set aside. Reserve bacon drippings in the skillet.

Wash and open the clams (as noted above) being sure to cut them loose from the shell after you have it open, but leaving each in the bottom half of the shell. Take care to preserve as much of the liquid inside the clam shells as you open them. Discard the top shell.

Preheat oven to 450F degrees.

Warm the reserved bacon drippings in the skillet, and place pan over medium heat. Add onion and pepper and saute until tender, 3-4 minutes. Add the bread crumbs and stir until golden brown, another 2-3 minutes. Remove to a separate dish. Stir in the oregano, parsley and cheese. Toss in the crumble bacon and combine. Set aside.

Wipe out the skillet. Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and saute 1 minute.

Spoon the butter/garlic mixture into the clams. Spoon the bread crumb mixture on top of each buttered clam. Sprinkle with paprika.

Place the clams on a cookie sheet or in any type of oven save dish that will hold them steady making sure they will not rock and spill the ingredients. Bake for 7 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve.

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