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Eating Dynamite: Columbus Day Clams Casino

Posted by Henry Santoro  October 3, 2012 09:41 AM
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Eating Dynamite – Columbus Day Clams Casino
This Monday is Columbus Day, a day off for many of us, and a perfect opportunity to rustle up something tasty and Italian in honor of the man who, we learned in grade school, discovered the continent we call home.

Columbus gambled on what he’d find when he sailed the ocean blue. That he’d encounter marine life from the giant (whales) to the small (clams) was a no-brainer. This Columbus Day, let the gambling and the clams meet in your kitchen: Herewith Columbus Day Clams Casino.

 24 small-to-medium littleneck clams – scrubbed clean
 3 tablespoons butter
 4 slices bacon (the best you can get); I use Black Forest
 5 tablespoons minced red pepper
 4 tablespoons minced scallions – white part only
 3 cloves minced garlic
 ½ cup plain panko breadcrumbs
 2 heaping tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
 2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley (flat leaf)
 Fresh ground black pepper & kosher salt – to taste
 Lemon wedges

Heat butter in a large cast iron pan or heavy skillet. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove the bacon and put it on a paper towel to drain. Then, cut each piece into 1-inch slices.

In the same pan, add the minced red pepper, scallions, and garlic to the bacon fat and butter and sautι for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the mixture from the heat and let it sit while you cook the clams. Preheat the broiler.

To cook the clams: Pour about one inch of water into a good-sized pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the clams and cover the pot. Cook just until the clams open – about 5-6 minutes – and drain and remove them to a bowl as they open. Let the clams cool a minute or two; then separate the shell halves and remove the meat. Set the shell halves on a roasting rack atop a sheet pan.

Place one cooked clam into each shell half, until all the clams are back in the shells. Mound a dollop of the breadcrumb mixture onto each clam, and top each one with a 1 inch slice of the bacon. Broil the clam-breadcrumb-bacon combo about 6-8 inches from the heat – that is, until the clams bubble or the bacon starts to brown on the edges. Carefully transfer the clams to a plate and serve with the lemon wedges.

There is no need for forks for these clams – eat them as you would a littleneck on the half shell.

Makes 24 Columbus Day Clams Casino.

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