Clams Casino

As spring rolls in, so do the backyard get-togethers and garden parties.  I always love the idea of an outdoor gathering in early spring. Imagine an evening with friends on an expansive deck adorned with white lanterns (and porch heaters combating the crisp March air.) Ladies wearing sandals and light wraps sip sparkling cocktails and nibble on warm hor d’oeuvres teetering on the end of winter and the brink of spring.

That’s the sort of food I crave at the moment. Dishes still rich in comfort and warmth, yet brazenly flaunting spring flavors and seasonal produce. Dishes like Dutch Babies with Mulberry Rhubarb Compote and Chinese Hot Pots offer the coziness of a blanket and the zest to springboard you into a new season.

Clams Casino is just such a dish. Decadent bacon and Parmesan cheese are balanced by vibrant lemon, fresh rosemary and red peppers. The fact that these beautiful clams are served “on the half shell” provides a touch of elegance to an otherwise down-home dish!

These fantastic serving pieces are from Villeroy & Boch’s Flow line!

Cook’s Notes:

I HATE to shuck clams, or any sort of shellfish, and avoid it at all costs. I’ve discovered steaming the clams for just a minute eliminates the need for shucking. Steam them until they are slightly opened. Then twist off the tops, saving the bottom half with the barely cooked clam.

Most shellfish served on the half shell are presented cold, on a bed of ice. These are piping hot when you offer them to your guests. A creative way to serve Clams Casino, so they don’t teeter around, is to lay them on a bed of dried grains or beans. These dried split-peas made a lovely and functional bed!

Preparation:

Fill a large pot with 2 inches of water and a place a steaming basket over the top.  Place the pot over high heat. Once boiling, add the clams to the basket and cover for 1-3 minutes, until just barely opened.

Open the clams and twist off the top shell. Lay the bottom with the clam on a baking sheet. Repeat with the rest.

Heat a large skillet over medium. Add the chopped bacon and cook until brown. Add the red pepper, shallot, garlic and rosemary. Sauté another 3-5 minutes until the onions are soft, then add the panko breadcrumbs. Once the breadcrumbs are toasted, squeeze the lemon juice over the top and taste for salt and pepper.

Scoop the bacon mixture on top of the clams, distributing evenly.

Sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese over the tops. Bake for approximately 5-6 minutes—until the tops are crisp.

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Yield: 2 dozen

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 12-14 minutes

Clams Casino

Ingredients:

24 littleneck clams
5-6 oz. bacon, chopped
1 small red pepper, diced
1 large shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. fresh chopped rosemary
1+ Tb. fresh lemon juice
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Fill a large pot with 2 inches of water and a place a steaming basket over the top. Place the pot over high heat. Once boiling, add the clams to the basket and cover for 1-3 minutes, until just barely opened.

Open the clams and twist off the top shell. Lay the bottom with the clam on a baking sheet. Repeat with the rest.

Heat a large skillet over medium. Add the chopped bacon and cook until brown. Add the red pepper, shallot, garlic and rosemary.

Sauté another 3-5 minutes until the onions are soft, then add the panko breadcrumbs. Once the breadcrumbs are toasted, squeeze the lemon juice over the top and taste for salt and pepper.

Scoop the bacon mixture on top of the clams, distributing evenly.

Sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese over the tops. Bake for approximately 5-6 minutes—until the tops are crisp. Serve warm.

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63 Responses to “Clams Casino”

  1. #
    51
    Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris — March 10, 2011 @ 1:53 am

    I loved your description of a spring dinner…! My first time with your clams casino..Wait for me!! How much is a plane ticket to your place??!!

    Reply

  2. #
    52
    Chris and Amy — March 10, 2011 @ 1:48 pm

    Great idea to steam them first. These clams look lovely and make us long for spring!!!

    Reply

  3. #
    53
    Magic of Spice — March 10, 2011 @ 5:08 pm

    What cleaver tips, and I loving these beauties!

    Reply

  4. #
    54
    Stevie — March 10, 2011 @ 7:37 pm

    Clams Casino are wonderful. I really like the name and the dish. I don’t eat “land animals.” How do you think these would work without bacon? Is there a pescatarian substitute that you could recommend?

    Reply

  5. #
    55
    Victoria @ Mission: Food — March 11, 2011 @ 1:31 pm

    I agree that shucking clams can be annoying, and I’ve used that same trick before! Excellent. I also love how you served these over split-peas, a great alternative to rock salt and definitely more colorful!

    Reply

  6. #
    56
    A Canadian Foodie — March 12, 2011 @ 3:26 pm

    Beautiful photos, presentation and yummy recipe!!!
    :)
    valerie

    Reply

  7. #
    57
    Sprinkled With Flour — March 12, 2011 @ 7:11 pm

    When you get a chance, stop by and pick up a couple of awards at my blog:)

    Reply

  8. #
    58
    blackbookkitchendiaries — March 15, 2011 @ 3:49 pm

    you are truly talented my friend! i love how delicious this dish looks! and your photos are just amazing!

    Reply

  9. #
    59
    Maris (In Good Taste) — March 28, 2011 @ 8:13 am

    What beautiful pictures. Sad to say the extent of my cooking with clams comes from a can :(

    Reply

  10. #
    60
    Kulsum at JourneyKitchen — March 28, 2011 @ 10:34 am

    Outdoor gatherings are my thing! To be honest I love cooking and eating outdoors and you have done such a marvelous job/

    Reply

  11. #
    61
    Cookin' Canuck — May 14, 2011 @ 9:24 pm

    What a beautiful presentation. Cheese, bacon and clams – now that is entertaining at its best.

    Reply

  12. #
    62
    Hyosun Ro — December 31, 2011 @ 12:02 pm

    I missed this in March, but thanks for the reminder in Facebook. This looks amazing. Book marked. Making them for my New Year’s eve appetizer.

    Reply

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