Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Makes: 24 pieces
This classic appetizer of clams on the half shell traditionally requires tedious shucking. In this easy version, you steam the clams first, making it a cinch to remove the top shell. You’ll need about two cups of coarse salt to cover the bottom of the baking sheet; it will act as a stabilizer for the rounded clamshells, keeping them from moving around as you fill and bake them. Feel free to use any kind of coarse salt, including inexpensive pickling salt.
24 littleneck clams (about 1 kg total) 4 strips bacon, chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped half jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped ¼ cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained and finely chopped 1 small clove garlic, minced 2 tsp unsalted butter ¼ cup fresh bread crumbs 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley ½ tsp grated lemon zest 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese coarse salt
Using stiff brush, scrub clams; discard any that do not close when tapped. In large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, bring clams and 1 cup water to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until clams have opened, about 10 minutes. Discard any that do not open. Using slotted spoon, transfer clams to bowl; discard cooking liquid. Remove and discard top halves of shells. Set clams in half shells aside.
While clams are cooking, in nonstick skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring often, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel–lined plate to drain. Set aside. Drain all but 1 tsp fat from pan; cook shallot and jalapeño pepper over medium heat, stirring often, until shallot is softened, about 4 minutes. Add red peppers and garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in bacon. Set aside.
In small nonstick skillet, melt butter over medium heat; cook bread crumbs, stirring occasionally, until light golden, about 3 minutes. Add half of the parsley and the lemon zest; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer to separate bowl; stir in Parmesan.
Fill large rimmed baking sheet with enough coarse salt to cover bottom. Arrange clams, shell side down, in salt to stabilize. Spoon scant 1 tsp of the bacon mixture into each; sprinkle each with scant ½ tsp of the bread crumb mixture. (Makeahead: Refrigerate for up to 4 hours.) Broil until topping is golden, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining parsley.
PER PIECE: about 28 cal, 3 g pro, 1 g total fat (trace sat. fat), 1 g carb (trace dietary fibre, trace sugar), 9 mg chol, 53 mg sodium, 75 mg potassium. % RDI : 1% calcium, 19% iron, 3% vit A, 10% vit C, 2% folate.
Smaller Manila clams make a fine substitute for littlenecks. Simply buy additional clams and spoon less of the filling into each shell.
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