Baked Clams

by Susan on July 27, 2010

I can’t believe that it’s almost August and I’m only now writing a post on baked clams! Baked clams are one of our summer staples, usually consumed with pre-dinner drinks or as an accompaniment to whatever is really for lunch (yes, I live in a world where baked clams are a side dish). One of the reasons these make such a frequent appearance is because the same husband who loves to grill, also loves to clam. Amazing, “toeing” and “raking” for clams is also an activity our summer guests seem to love. Yes, that’s right, we send our guests into Shinnecock Bay, armed with rakes and mesh bags, to dig for clams. For all you consummate hosts out there, it’s as gratifying as it sounds: “Now get out there and find us something to eat!” The good news is that even if you don’t have a forager amongst your family or friends, clams are readily available at supermarkets and fishmongers.

While my clammers are wading, I’m in charge of the mise en place. Combine a stick of room temperature butter with 4 cloves of finely chopped garlic. This is more than enough for two dozen clams. Any extra can just be wrapped in plastic wrap and tucked in the fridge for next time or for another meal’s garlic bread.

In a bowl, mix freshly chopped parsley, freshly grated parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. (In a Martha-esque moment I recently used homemade breadcrumbs and the clams turned out under seasoned.)

Even if you buy your clams, you can still partake in the opening festivities, though I’ll warn you that it can be tough – and frustrating – work. Like so many other things in life, it gets easier with practice. A few weeks ago the NY Times Diner’s Journal had a good article on some of the tricks to opening clams. While you’re honing your skills, I might recommend purchasing your clams on the half shell.

Place your clams on a baking sheet and give each one a dime-sized dollop of garlic butter and then a healthy sprinkling of the breadcrumb mixture.

Bake in the top third of your oven at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Then broil until golden brown – keep a close eye as they’ll darken quickly. Squeeze some fresh lemon over the baked clams and eat. You’ll be as happy as a  . . . . (apologies, but how could I resist?).

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