Friday, July 30, 2010

I'm Diggin' Those Baked Clams

This past Wednesday, Paul and I drove down to the beach to meet our friends, Lorraine and Al, for Wine Night at Lola's.  We sat outdoors enjoying the warm breeze, feasted on some wonderful food, drank some good wine, shared a bunch of laughs and, overall, experienced a truly pleasant, relaxing, midweek summer evening.  After dinner, we walked back to Lorraine's place where Al opened a cooler filled with clams sitting atop ice, waiting to be transformed. They sent us home with a bagful of those beauties.  I knew what I would be doing Thursday night.

After some deliberation I decided to make some baked stuffed clams and a pot of my mother's Manhattan clam chowder. Did it matter that it was 86 humid degrees outside and we had 4, count 'em, 4 air conditioners running?   Not at all....some things are worth wasting energy over....Did I just say that?

Here they are....  Baked Stuffed Clams 
Recipe adapted from Elise at
Yields about 12 stuffed clams
  • 10- 12  medium sized clams, scrubbed *(see note)
  • 3 tablespoons minced shallot 
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, minced
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1cup panko
  • 2-3 tablespoons clam broth (saved from steaming clams)
  • salt 
  • pepper
  • a few tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (unless you have issues having cheese on seafood)  
  • a drizzle of good olive oil
Fill a large pot with about 2" of water. Bring water to a boil. Add the scrubbed clams to the pot, cover tight and steam for about 10-12 minutes.  Clams open when done.  Discard any unopened clams. Remove clams from pot and allow to cool.  Do not throw away the water.  

Strain clam broth through a fine sieve lined with 3 layers of cheesecloth.  I actually strain it 3 times making sure there is no sand or grit.  Reserve broth.

Remove cooled clams from shells and mince. Break shells apart.  Keep 12 - 14 clam shell halves. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.    

Melt butter in a saute pan, add the minced shallot and cook for 3 minutes until fragrant. Add garlic, cook another minute, add parsley, panko, minced clams, lemon juice, and enough clam broth to make it nice and moist, but not wet and gloppy.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
 Using a teaspoon, fill clam shells with mixture and place on baking sheet.  Sprinkle with grated cheese and drizzle with some olive oil.  Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown.
I look cheese-happy.  It was just very fluffy having grated it with a microplane

*note about cleaning clams:  wash clams in cold water using a stiff bristled brush.  Fill a large bowl with cold water, dump in 1cup of corn meal. Put scrubbed clams in the bowl and allow to sit for 30 - 45 minutes.  Since clams are filter feeders this helps to remove some sand and grit. Live clams should be closed.  If a clam is open, tap it.  If it doesn't shut, the clam is dead; throw it away. After soaking, remove clams one at a time giving it a quick rinse. Don't dump the sandy cornmeal water over the clam into a strainer!

Stay tuned for Mom's Manhattan Clam Chowder....

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