I could never get enough of baked clams. They are the perfect starter to an Italian meal or part of a hot antipasti platter. Garnished with just a lemon wedge, baked clams are an all time favorite.
Whenever I’m out having dinner at a good Italian restaurant I usually order the baked clams as a starter. When made right these are the original finger food that’s finger licking good. I never bother using the little forks that come with the clams. For the entire baked clams eating experience you have to suck them right out of the shell. Fancy restaurant? No matter. That’s the way these baby’s should be eaten. Even with a little slurp to aerate the flavors going down. Sweet, briny, flavorful.
If I were at a catered affair and the cocktail hour offered baked clams, I was in heaven. All you can fit on that tiny little plate they gave you. The baked clams were always the first to go so you got all you can while you can.
I could remember vacationing on the north shore of Long Island one summer and right in the bay in front of us were a seabed of clams, ripe for the picking. We spent the morning digging for the clams and by late afternoon we were eating baked clams by the dozen. Add some wine or a few beers and the meal was complete.
They are really easy to make, and if you follow my instructions for a non-shucking method of opening up the little gems, you might make these tasty little morsels more often.
Baked Clams Oreganata
- 18 little neck clams with reserved clam juice
- 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 3 heaping tablespoons of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil plus more to drizzle over clams
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- lemon wedges
Unless you have worked at a clam bar, shucking clams is not an easy task. Here is an easy way to get the clams opened and save your fingers from shucking. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. After you washed and scrubbed the clams, place in a single layer on a sheet pan. Place in the oven for only 2-3 minutes. This will be enough to loosen the clams up so they will be easy to open.
Take the clams out of the oven and with a butter knife or other thin knife without teeth, pry open the clams. I open the clams over a bowl to make sure I catch all the juice that comes out, you will use it in the stuffing. Open up the clam, get rid of the top shell, and loosen the clam in its shell so it will be easier to eat.
In a medium bowl mix together the bread crumbs, oregano, parsley, garlic, grated cheese , 2 tablespoons of reserved strained clam juice, olive oil, and black pepper.
Take the clam and hold it over the bowl with the stuffing. Top the clams with this mixture, but don’t pack down the bread crumbs. Drizzle with some olive oil.
Place them under the broiler until the clams are done and the bread crumb is crispy and golden, about 4-5 minutes. Serve with the lemon wedges.