Clams are a very popular antipasto
in the United States, especially in the coastal areas. They can be served sautéed with garlic and oil, over
pasta to make a fragrant and appetizing entree, into chowder with potatoes and broth or stuffed and baked in
a variety of ways.
In Italy, vongole are very small clams used to make sauce for linguine or spaghetti. In America,
the clams harvested come in many size. The preferred sizes for stuffed clams are little neck clams, neck or
top neck; larger clams are usually chopped, mixed with into a condiment and baked in small aluminum
In the Italian eateries of Rhode
Island, Italian-Americans were serving clams in a half shell covered with a combination of breadcrumbs
toasted in bacon grease, garlic, onions and herbs. It became a fashionable appetizer and a standard feature
in all restaurants.
Clams Casino are baked clams
stuffed with breadcrumbs, garlic, butter, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and bacon; Clams Rockefeller are
prepared with breadcrumbs, mustard, spinach, scallions, Worcestershire sauce, butter, Tabasco and topped with
a piece of bacon. Casino and Rockefeller are the trendiest recipes for stuffed
At Joes of Avenue U, stuffed clams were prepared with breadcrumbs
seasoned with parsley, fresh oregano, a hint of garlic, a little tomato sauce and an abundance of olive oil.
The first step in this preparation was to bake the clams and then broil them when ready to serve. The
taste of the fresh clams, the crispy breadcrumb mixture, the various ingredients with contrasting flavors and
textures result in a meal very stimulating for your palate.
littleneck clams, necks or top neck, scrubbed and rinsed
- 1 cup toasted
- 5 tablespoons olive
- 2 cloves garlic,
pressed or finely chopped
- ½ cup parsley,
- ½ teaspoon
- Pinch of crushed red
peperoncino flakes (optional)
- Salt and
- ¼ cup tomato sauce or 6
canned chopped plum tomatoes
- Olive oil to
- 2 lemons, quartered, to
It is important to buy fresh clams, tightly closed, with the shells whole
and without chips. Scrub and rinse the clams and soak in cold water for at least 1 hour to eliminate any
sand. Remove clams from the water, put in a strainer and rinse again. Place in an open container and keep in
When ready to shuck the
clams, cover with ice; it is easier to open them when they are cold. Use a glove and the proper tool to open the
clams—or have your fishmonger do it.
In a sauté pan over medium
heat, place one tablespoon of oil and one crushed garlic clove. With a wooden spoon, squeeze the garlic into the
oil to release its flavor. When garlic is light golden, discard. Place the clams and a few tablespoons of water
into the pot. Cover and steam for 2–3 minutes, continuously checking for open clams. As they open, remove with a
tong or slotted, long-handled spoon and set aside. Discard any unopened clams. Remove mollusks from shells and
set aside, reserving half of the shells. Filter the cooking liquid with cheesecloth to eliminate any sand and
put on the side.
In a medium bowl, combine the
toasted breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, chopped oregano, peperoncino and black pepper to
Add the oil, tomato and 3
tablespoons of the clam juice, mix well and taste for saltiness.
If mixture is too dry and
needs salt, add more clam juice or oil.
Place a clam into a half shell and cover loosely with 1 almost full tablespoon of stuffing. Do not pack down the
Place the stuffed clam on a baking sheet, add
½ cup of water, sprinkle on any leftover stuffing and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
When ready to serve, drizzle with olive oil
and add ¼ cup of water, place under the broiler or bake at 475 degrees until the top of the stuffing is golden
Place clams onto a platter, spoon some of the
remaining pan juices onto each serving dish, garnish with lemon wedge and serve some spongy Italian bread to mop
up the baking juices.
As an aperitif and to pair nicely with the
baked clams, serve a young Californian Chablis or a Sicilian Pinot Grigio produced by Feudo