Clams and Mussels (Step-by-Step P. 93)
Cleaning mussels and clams is very simple and straightforward; once prepared, they take only minutes to cook. Hard-shell clams come in various sizes; medium-size cherrstones and smaller littlenecks are more tender than larger chowder clams and soft-shell steamers. Both cherrystones and littlenecks can be eaten raw on the half shell, and are also good in cooked dishes – from stuffed clams to richly flavored pasta sauces. The briny liquid they release adds wonderful flavor but varies in saltiness – taste after cooking and season accordingly.
Prep: 20 mins
Bake: 15 mins
Makes 4 appetizer servings
1 dozen littleneck or cherrystone clams
2 slices white bread, torn
2 slices bacon, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1. With stiff brush, scrub clams under cold running water. Shuck clams and release meat from bottom shells.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Place clams in bottom shells in small baking dish or jelly-roll pan. Refrigerate clams until ready to bake.
3. In food processor with knife blade attached or in blender, process bread to fine crumbs. Spread crumbs on cookie sheet and bake 5 mins, or until golden. In nonstick 10-inch skillet, cook bacon over medium-low heat until browned. With slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Discard drippings from skillet.
4. Add oil to skillet; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 mins, or until tender. Add garlic and pepper; cook 30 seconds. Remove from heat; stir in parsley,, crumbs, and bacon.
5. Spoon crumb mixture evenly over clams in baking dish. Bake about 10 mins, until topping is lightly golden and clams are just cooked through.
Littlenecks – These small hard-shells (under 2 inches in diameter) are sweet and tender; try them in pasta, soup, or simply steamed.
Cherrystones – Medium-sized hard-shells that are prepared like littlenecks; perfect for stuffing.
Manila – A Pacific clam that tastes best when under 1 inch across.
Geoducks – From the Pacific Northwest, this giant clam has an oval shell and long siphon’ used in soups.