She protects them as if they’re classified information….and…. I guess, “classified information” is the perfect description, because she will not, and probably never will, share. Zipped lips. Key thrown away. Top Secret. She knows I’m talking about her right now, because we laugh about this all the time…and she also knows it drives me crazy, because I’m all about sharing recipes.. I always tell her that I would definitely give her the “shout out” if I made one of her recipes to take to a party or wherever, that I won’t take the glory for myself…but nope. She won’t cave.
I couldn’t wrap my brain around this “top secret” business.
And I realized that she’s no dummy.
She knows what she’s doing.
There is no doubt that we all love her recipes because they are so top secret, and they’re not readily available to us. We get to enjoy her recipes when she prepares them, which isn’t all that often, because it’s usually a party or get together….so it’s a special treat…
She knows that we’re going to be all excited…
And we are going to rave and gush all over her and her food…
And that makes my friend… and her food…the stars of the show!!
One of my favorite things that she makes is her Clams Casino. What she doesn’t know is that when she would bring them to a gathering, I would dissect…I would study….I would analyze… I would make mental notes…
And after agonizing over these clams… it hit me.
Make your own.
So I did.
My Clams Casino is nothing like my friends recipe, and that’s ok. It’s just a basic recipe. It’s simple, and it’s delicious in its own way. And it’s mine to share. With all of you.
And in keeping with my theme…it’s so simple to make! You can actually have them made in under an hour! The red pepper with the shallots and garlic blend so well with the bacon and clams…a hint of wine in the background… and wait…is that Romano cheese? Why, yes…yes it is!!! All with that little squeeze of lemon at the end just makes all of those flavors together pop with every single bite you take…
Simple…. Yet complex.
So…I’m bringing my Clams Casino recipe to Angie’s Fiesta Friday, to share with all of you… I hope you stop by Angie’s blog, The Novice Gardener. It’s an awesome blog, so well written, and after reading a couple of her posts, it will be as if you’ve known her all your life! This is the 11th week that Angie has hosted this party, and it just keeps on growing! It is so awesome how many talented and wonderful people have joined in on the fun!
Life is good. It’s a “friends who force me to create my own recipes, but I love them nonetheless, and always will” kind of good…
Makes 24 Clams Casino on the Half Shell
Just a quick note: I am far from a pro when it comes to cooking clams….and I admit that when I first started steaming, broiling, grilling, etc..clams, I was very nervous. I was afraid that I would give everyone food poisoning…but following a few tips that I found online really helped… First, Don’t be afraid to be picky when you’re buying the clams from the seafood department. Unless you’re buying a bag of clams, make sure that they’re picking the cream of the crop for you, with no cracks or chips, and that they’re fully closed. Second…if the clam is open a little, tap him…. If he closes back up promptly..then he’s alive…meaning…he’s good. If he stays open, I wouldn’t even take the chance, so discard him. Keep them refrigerated. And once they’re all steamed / broiled/ grilled… if there are any clams that have not opened, discard them.
14 Cherrystone Clams (Technically 12, but I buy a couple extra in case they don’t open when cooked)
½ pound bacon, diced
2 tbsp reserved bacon grease
4 tbsp butter, melted
1 sweet red pepper, finely diced
3 shallots, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
¼ tsp cayenne
½ cup dry white wine
Clam juice from broiling
3 cups fresh soft breadcrumbs
3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp Romano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh lemon wedges
Begin by cleaning the cherrystones. Rinse them thoroughly. I’ll usually put them in a large bowl with very cold water, and stick the bowl in the refrigerator. This will give the clams the chance to spit out any sand or grit that may have gotten inside. After about 30 minutes to an hour, drain the bowl of water, and refill with fresh cold water. Refrigerate. After the second soaking, I’ll usually scrub them with a kitchen brush.
Cook the clams with your preferred method. For this particular recipe, I broil them, because I like to use the juice from the clams that is left on the baking sheet after they’ve cooked. Preheat the broiler to high. Place the clams on a large, heavy baking sheet in a single layer. Place under the broiler, and broil for about 10 minutes or so, until the clams have opened completely. Just when you start to wonder if they’re ever going to open, they all start to gracefully pop open….
Remove the baking sheet from the oven… reserving the clam juice that has dripped into the pan. Remove the clam from inside the shell with a spoon. Place on a cutting board and finely chop. Gently twist the clam shell at the hinged side to separate the halves. Clean any remnants of clam from the shell. Set the shells aside aside.
In a large frying pan, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels, and set aside for now. Discard all but two tablespoons of the grease. Add the finely diced red pepper and shallots to the frying pan with the two tablespoons of bacon grease. Sauté until softened; about five minutes or so. Add the garlic; and sauté for another minute or two until softened.
Add the wine to the shallots and garlic mixture, and simmer until it’s reduced to about half…about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add the chopped clams, breadcrumbs, ½ of the bacon, the reserved clam juice, melted butter, parsley, white pepper, Old Bay seasoning, cayenne, Romano cheese to the wine reduction. Mix thoroughly. If you think it is a little too crumbly, you can add another tablespoon or so of melted butter until it meets your desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon the clam and breadcrumb mixture onto the clam shells. Top with remaining bacon. Put under the broiler for about 5 minutes or until the bacon is sizzling and the top is golden brown.
Serve with lemon wedges.