Clams Casino in the AGA

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We went clamming the other day and came back with a good sized harvest. The smaller ones were set aside for a pasta dish. For the larger ones, we made clams casino.

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Shucking the clams can take a while until you get a system down. Our clams were not relaxed so I used an oyster knife to pry open the hinge a bit until I could slide the clam knife in on the opening side.

The concept is simple: sauté some delicious ingredients and make a stuffing to put on top of clams on the half shell. It contains bacon…need I say more?

Ingredients
12 cherrystone clams, cleaned and shucked, bottom shells reserved
Rock salt or coarse kosher salt (for stabilizing the clams)
3 slices of bacon
Couple of glugs olive oil
Thick pad of butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, minced (optional)
Small yellow onion, finely diced
Half of green pepper, finely diced (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs (oregano and basil) (optional)

Preparation

Shuck the clams, reserving the bottom shells. Arrange them on a bed of rock/coarse salt on a the small roasting sheet.

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In a 10 inch sauté pan, cook bacon on 1st runner of roasting oven (or as high as your pan will allow) for 7-8 minutes until crisp. Remove from pan, drain on paper towels and crumble; set aside.

Wipe out the sauté pan, but don’t wash it. Keep the pan hot on simmer plate Heat the pan hot on simmer plate and add the olive oil and butter. Heat until butter melts.

Sauté, on the floor of the roasting oven, the garlic, onion, shallot and peppers with the oregano and a pinch of salt and pepper until softened – about 5 minutes.

Return to simmer plate and add the wine. Reduce the pan liquid to about half.

Stir in the panko, reserved bacon, fresh herbs and half the Parmesan cheese. Taste and correct seasonings.

Divide the stuffing equally among the clams, mounding it up slightly. Sprinkle the rest of the Parmesan evenly over the stuffing.

Bake on the 1st runners of the roasting oven until the clams are cooked and the topping is deep golden brown, about 8- 10 minutes.

Serve immediately.

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