These herb-seasoned breadcrumb stuffed clams are irresistible. They make great appetizers for parties or large gatherings. I serve them for our traditional seafood dinner on Christmas Eve.
BAKED STUFFED CLAMS
(Vongole Ripiene al Forno)
Difficulty Rating: Moderate
Makes 16 clams.
1 1/2 dozen large littleneck clams
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup finely minced onion
2 cups plain dry breadcrumbs
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/3 cup minced Italian parsley
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4-6 tablespoons clam juice
Salt and black pepper
1. PREPARE THE CLAMS: Wash and scrub clams under running water. Discard any clams that are open. Place clams in a large bowl. Cover with hot tap water and let sit for about 5 minutes, until clams start to open. Open clams with a knife and loosen the meat. Drain clam juices in a small dish and set aside. Remove the meat and coarsely chop. Reserve 16 clam shell halves and discard the rest. Divide meat equally among the shells.
2. MAKE THE FILLIING: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in breadcrumbs and garlic, mixing thoroughly. Cook until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in parsley, cheese, thyme, oregano, rosemary, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add enough clam juice to lightly moisten the mixture. The filling can be made 1 day in advance.
3. BAKE THE CLAMS: Using a large soup spoon, press the breadcrumbs in each shell, and smooth in a slight mound using the back of the spoon. Sprinkle the tops with paprika. Place on a large baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until browned on top.
The prepared clams can be made 1 to 2 hours ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to bake.