Sunday, July 06, 2008

Clams Casino

One of the advantages of growing up on the New England coast was the seafood. In the summer clams were a staple. Whether it was my grandmother's clam chowder at a family picnic or steamers on a night when my parents just felt like eating outside... we ate a LOT of clams back then.

Now that I live in Florida, I can still get some of those New England clams, but it comes at a slightly steeper price these days, so I tend to reserve the clam consumption for days like the 4th of July. On Thursday I stopped by the best seafood market in town (best because they fly clams and lobster in daily from New England) and picked up some beautiful steamers and chowder clams, as well as some Florida little necks. On Friday, we had a clam feast... Rhode Island style chowder, steamers with drawn butter and... these wonderful little things. This is my father's recipe for clams casino.

1/2 stick butter
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 doz small hard shell clams (like little necks)
Italian style bread crumbs (optional)
8 slices of bacon, partially cooked and cut into 1" pieces

Preheat broiler.

Melt butter over low heat in a small pan. Add chopped peppers, onions and garlic and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, just until vegetables are tender crisp. Set aside to cool.

Pour about 1/2" of kosher salt on a baking pan large enough to hold all the clams. Shuck fresh clams over a large bowl to catch the liquid. Discard top half of the shell and place bottom half with the clam onto the salt (this will keep the clams straight, and keep them from spilling the butter). Spoon a little of the butter and vegetable mixture into each clam shell and top with a sprinkling of bread crumbs and partially cooked bacon.

Place clams under broiler, about 6 inches from the heat and broil about 4 minutes, or just until the bacon crisps up. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

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