Fletcher’s Rockin’ Baked Clams
This is a little recipe I created while on our summer vacations at the Jersey Shore. There is a fantastic little clam shack called Blackies that is literally just that, you can buy 100 clams (any size) for $29 (your eyes are not failing you, it is a summer culinary miracle)! I LOVE clams especially when they have that freshness of just being raked up that day, they taste like the ocean so fresh and delicious!! I can eat them any which way but especially love them raw on a half-shell with some red wine vinegar (a little something my Uncle Tony taught me). My husband is not a fan of them raw so I had to devise a scrumptious “man” recipe because there is nothing I love more than feeding my man (while listening to Michael Buble of course)! We have a tradition of beaching it all day with my girls and then heading back to our rental apartment to pop on some tunes, mix up a fun summer cocktail (virgin for the kids), hang out together and cook, we love to eat in (but out on the deck of course in that warm summer air), relax and just be together..... one of the top 5 favorite moments in my year!! So here is perfection on a shell.......
Ingredients: (serves a crowd for appetizers, 4 for a meal with salad)
3 dozen top neck clams (scrub and clean shells)
2 Tbsp flour or corn meal
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
3 Tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 c white wine (chardonnay preferably but anything you have left over in the fridge works)
3 oz Prosciutto sliced thinly and then chopped
1/4-1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4-1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling
1 tsp crushed red pepper (more if you like it spicy!)
salt and pepper to taste
While you chop and prep all the ingredients soak the cleaned clams in cold water with flour or corn meal for 10 minutes (this allows the clams to purge any sand they are holding) Rinse clams and place in large pan so they can almost lay flat on bottom, fill with water about 2 inches up pan but don’t fully submerge clams in water. Cover and bring to a boil, simmer until all the clams open about 8-10 minutes (****if any of the clams do not open toss those, it means they were dead and unsafe to eat). Reserve cooking water and set clams aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat saute pan with the olive oil and add the chopped onion and pepper, cook until onion is translucent and red pepper is soft about 8 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper cook an additional minute but do not brown garlic. Add prosciutto and saute a couple of minutes just to break it up and mix in. Pour in white wine and reduce by half (letting it boil down). Turn off the heat, stir in parsley.
Take the opened clams and break the shells apart to have two equal halves, remove clams and chopped into large chunks. Place clams into onion mixture and mix well, add about 1/4 cup of reserved clam juice water and then slowly add in breadcrumbs and grated cheese until mixture is still moist but starts to come together in a paste. If it gets too dry add more clam juice, if too moist add more breadcrumbs. Add salt and pepper to taste (be careful with the salt the clams and cheese are already salty).
Spoon enough mixture into the shells to fill. Place filled shells on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and top each with a little extra sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
**At this point clams can be made up to 24 hours in advance, then refrigerate or freeze for later use.
Bake for 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees until tops are golden brown......YUM YUM YUM!
**My husband loves to pour a little of his favorite hot sauce on top so have some on hand for your feistier guests!