For many seafood lovers, Clams Casino is the perfect appetizer. The briny flavor of the littlenecks is complemented well by the sweetness of the red bell pepper and the smokiness of the bacon. Allowing about four clams per person should be just enough for a light prelude to a meal.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
- 1 tablespoon white wine
- 8 slices thick cut bacon
- 2 dozen littleneck clams, shucked
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallots and sauté for 2 minutes until soft and fragrant. Add the red bell pepper and continue to cook until the pepper is tender. Add the white wine and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to a small bowl and set aside.
Add the bacon to the skillet and fry until barely cooked, not crispy. Remove from the pan, blot on paper towels and cut each slice into thirds.
Arrange the clams in a single layer in a baking dish. Sprinkle with the parsley, top with equal portions of the garlic and red pepper mixture, then place a piece of bacon over each clam.
Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the clams are cooked through. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
For a more authentic Italian version of this recipe, replace the bacon with about 6 ounces of pancetta. For addition flavor, shuck the clams over a bowl to catch the juices and add them to the garlic and red pepper mixture along with the wine. Cook for an extra minute or two to evaporate the extra liquid.