This weekend was party time. Son and daughter-in-law had their Christmas party at their new house in Alexandria on Saturday, and we had ours on Sunday. Son asked for stuffed eggs (of course) and baked clams. Luckily, the cookbook obliged with a second baked stuffed clams recipe, so I didn't have to insist on, say, Pickled Venison Heart.
Having been well trained in taking food to picnics and on camping trips, I packed the clams, the stuffing and the shells into three separate containers. During the party I put the whole shebang together in their kitchen, which became sort of an old persons' hangout, as my friends came in to talk to me while I was stuffing clams.
I bought the clams that were available, which were littlenecks. Littlenecks, as indicated by their name, are little. As a result, I ended up with way more stuffing than shells to stuff. If all you can find are littlenecks, cut the amount of bread crumbs in half and buy more clams.
Son and daughter-in-law's friends grabbed hot clams eagerly off the platter as I sidled through the crowd offering them to all and sundry. If you have friends who like seafood, these are a good bet.
Baked Stuffed Clams
12 medium-size cherrystone clams, well scrubbed
2 tablespoons water
rock salt (option)
2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups soft bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons freshly graded Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon dry white wine
freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 slices bacon, each cut into thirds
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place the clams and water in a pan. Cover and steam until clams just open, about eight minutes. Reserve broth. Remove clams from shells and chop finely. Wash all shell halves and set in a shallow baking pan. Bury in rock salt if it is available.
3. Melt the butter in a skillet and saute the shallots and garlic in it until tender but not browned. Stir in the bread crumbs, celery, parsley, basil, oregano, cheese, oil, wine and pepper. Mix well.
4. Stir in enough of the reserved clam broth to moisten the stuffing but not to make it soggy.
5. Distribute the chopped clams among the twenty four shells. Top with bread crumb mixture and then a piece of bacon. Bake ten minutes and then brown under the broiler. Makes 4 servings.