Traditional baked clams are stuffed with a flavorful breadcrumb mixture and are easy to prepare, once you've cleaned and shucked the clams. Hailing from Italy, this clam dish calls for small or medium fresh clams, shucked and on the half shell. The basic breadcrumb mixture includes Parmesan cheese, clam juice and a little olive oil, but you're free to add other aromatics, herbs and flavorful ingredients. Once stuffed, the clams only need a few minutes in the oven to bake or broil.
Things You'll Need
- Kitchen brush
- Oyster knife
- Parmesan cheese
- Olive Oil
Cleaning and Shucking Clams
Place clams in a large bowl and cover with cool water to soak for up to an hour. Add a tablespoon or so of cornmeal to encourage the clams to spit out any sand and grit that may be inside their shells.
Drain the water from the clams and scrub each one with a stiff kitchen brush to loosen any stuck-on grit and particles.
Hold one clam in a heavy kitchen towel in your non-dominant hand. The hinge part of the shell should be pressed against your towel-covered hand.
Wedge an oyster knife in between the clam shell, sliding it all the way around until you reach the hinge. Twist the knife at the hinge to fully separate the top and bottom shell. Discard top shells.
Slide the knife underneath the clam meat to release it from the shell. Reserve the clam juices in a small container. Place each shucked cam on a bed of ice to keep them cold as you continue to open the rest.
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit, or turn the broiler setting to high. Broiling can get the breadcrumbs crispier than the traditional oven bake setting.
Combine plain breadcrumbs with grated Parmesan cheese, dried herbs such as Italian parsley and oregano, olive oil and the reserved clam juice in a mixing bowl, forming a semi-moist breadcrumb mixture. For every 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs you use, add about 1 1/2 teaspoons of Parmesan cheese, 2 teaspoons of clam juice and olive oil each and a pinch or two of dried herbs.
Spoon a heaping amount of the breadcrumb mixture on top of each clam in its shell. Press down gently to pack the mixture into the shells.
Drizzle olive oil lightly over the stuffed clams, then place them in the oven to bake or broil. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or broil the clams on a rack about 6 inches from the heat source for 5 to 8 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.
Tips & Warnings
- As an alternative to shucking, you can steam open the clams in a steamer pot. After adding the breadcrumb mixture, cut the cooking time in half, cooking just until the breadcrumbs have browned, since the clams are already cooked.
- Add additional ingredients to the breadcrumb mixture, such as cooked spinach, tomatoes, onions and even chopped bacon, for more flavor.
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