Clams Casino originated in Rhode Island but there are many variations to this delightful appetizer. Some recipes call for Worcestershire sauce, butter and bacon. I substituted bacon for pancetta because of my infinite love affair with pancetta. They are mouthwatering appetizers and very festive. I suggest making them for a special occasion and serve them with a very chilled bubbly, like a Prosecco. It sure would set the tone for a smashing dinner party. I wanted to use the Cherrystone clams but could not find them. Please keep in mind, if using Cherrystone clams, you will need to chop them up and place them back on the half shell. I used the little neck clams and the result was like hitting a Royal Flush hand in poker. They are more tender and less chewy but the larger clams make a lovely presentation and popping food photos. The choice is yours. This dish is very popular in the Italian-American community, but can be enjoyed by everyone from all corners of the world. Put on your apron and follow me in the kitchen.
Serves: 6 – or 8-10 when served with other appetizers – Difficulty level: Intermediate
- 40 little neck clams (small) or about 20-25 cherrystone size
- 2 tbps. extra virgin olive oil, + more for drizzle
- 4 oz. pancetta, chopped
- 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 small shallot, chopped
- 3 garlic, chopped
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- Seasoned breadcrumbs to lightly sprinkle
- Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or any parmesan cheese to lightly sprinkle
- 1/2 lemon, plus more for garnish
- Flat-leave Italian parsley for garnishPreparation:
1) Wash and scrub the clams. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large flat metal pan, bake the clams for about 3 minutes or until they open. Remove them. Drain some of the liquid. Let them cool off. Detach the shells one by one, leaving the clams on half shell.
2) In the meanwhile, in a large skillet, over medium-high heat, heat olive oil (be careful, lower heat if it’s too high). Brown the pancetta, for about 1-2 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add the bell peppers and shallots, 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic, saute’ for 1 minute. Deglaze with the wine for 2 minutes. Turn the burner off.
3) Time to assemble. Sprinkle a little breadcrumbs on each clam. Next, place the pancetta mixture, then sprinkle cheese lightly.
4) BROIL for about 3-4 minutes. Remove at once.
5) Place on a serving platter. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.
6) Garnish with parsley and lemon slices. Bam! Your guests will be dazzled by your culinary creation.
Hope you’re happy as a clam after reading this delicious blogpost!
Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover
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