A single bite of bacon, sea, and spice on every half shell. This is the first way that I’ve ever made clams, and it’s still a go-to appetizer years later. After a day clamming with friends, it’s an easy recipe to involve the whole group in the prep-work to make this easily sharable finger food.
The Just Me and the Clams blog really starts with this recipe. When I first moved to New England I was nervous about not knowing anyone, and to prevent loneliness, made sure I had a project to focus on. Seeing as I already loved cooking, fishing, and building websites, Just Me and the Clams was going to be my journal of “roughing it” alone in Cape Cod.
I originally worked at a library, and in helping a patron at the desk, I was asked if I ever went quahogging. He had to explain to me that quahogging was fishing for hard-shell clams. (By the way, quahogs are just larger cherrystones, which are just larger littlenecks). Of course I said yes to an invite! Dude didn’t even know I already owned a domain with clam in the name!
Here I am right before we went in the water:
We went out in Pocasset and dug up a full peck (a wire basket with an inner-tube around it) of quahogs. This was the start of my clam zen. Being in the water and outdoors was part of the appeal, but I also found the instant gratification of scraping clams out of the seafloor to be impeccably satisfying in comparison to regular fishing, where you can sit there all day and not get a bite.
After our successful harvest, we rinsed off the clams, rakes, and waders with the garden hose. In the kitchen, he showed me how to make clams casino with only a few ingredients. I’ve made countless variations to his original recipe, but never strayed far from the basics.
- 3 dozen littleneck clams (or so)
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
- Half a yellow onion, chopped finely
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco or other preferred hot sauce
- 5-6 pieces of bacon, chopped into enough pieces for the number of your clams
In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Turn off the heat and stir in the breadcrumbs to coat them all in the butter. Mix in the garlic and onion. Set this aside. Shuck the clams onto the half shell, and place them onto a rimmed baking sheet. Then preheat the oven to 400F (you don’t want to do this until you’re done shucking, because shucking is hard work!). Slice the lemon in half, and squeeze a couple drops of fresh juice onto each half-shell, careful not to drop any seeds. Cut up the remaining lemon half and set aside for serving with the finished clams. Add a drop of hot sauce to each shell. Add the breadcrumb mix, dispersing evenly between the number of clams. Top each with a piece of bacon. The baking time varies on your oven and the thickness of your bacon, but bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Serve with remaining lemon slices.