David's Favorite Recipes

St. James Clam’s Casino

SERVES 6 TO 8

At low tide in the mudflats at the harbor near my childhood home in St. James, Long Island, I used to clam with my friend Ollie Edwards. We didn’t need clam rakes; rather, we walked slowly in the mud and picked up the clams when we felt them under the bottoms of our feet. It was pretty easy. At first, we would serve them raw with cocktail sauce and a squeeze of lemon, but later we figured out how to make our own Clams Casino recipe, and it became very popular very quickly.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, finely diced
½ cup white wine
24 Cherrystone of Little Neck clams
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups seasoned store-bought Japanese-style panko breadcrumbs, or homemade herbed breadcrumbs
8 slices bacon, cut into thirds
4 lemons

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the, shallot and sauté until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the wine and clams, cover, and raise the heat to medium-high. When the wine boils, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until the clams open, 5 to 10 minutes. Discard any unopened clams. Strain the broth through cheesecloth into a bowl.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add  ½ cup of the broth, stir in the breadcrumbs, and set aside.

When the clams are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the top shell from each clam. With a sharp knife, remove the clam meat from the other shell. Cut out and discard the tough muscle and, if the clams are large, cut the remaining meat in half. Return the meat to each shell. Place the shells on a rimmed baking pan. Spoon in enough of the breadcrumb mixture to cover the clam meat; squeeze in a little lemon juice. Cover each clam with a bacon piece. (You can adjust the size of the bacon piece depending on the clam size.

Preheat the broiler. Broil the clams about 6 inches from the heat until the bacon is nicely brown, 5 to 6 minutes, watching carefully to avoid burning.

Serve on hors-d’oeuvre plates with small forks and wedges of lemon.