Yield: 4 to 6 servings as a starter
Clams Casino is a dish that originated from Rhode Island; it is a clam on the half shell served with bacon and various other accoutrements. It is traditionally served without chorizo, but I’m on a kick lately and couldn’t resist. Omit the chorizo for an equally delicious topping. (This is also a great filling for stuffed mini peppers-just add some cream cheese and extra Parmesan…may be a recipe to come later?!) This is a very tasty and elegant appetizer…just make sure you have forks when serving because you’ll have to scoop the clams and toppings out of the shell.
2 pounds littleneck clams (approximately 18-20)
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 slices thick-cut bacon, sliced lengthwise and cut into small pieces
1/2 fresh chorizo link
1 large shallot, finely minced
2/3 cup bell pepper, finely minced (yellow, red or orange)
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 to 8 chives, finely chopped
Rinse the clams, scrubbing the shells with your hands or a brush. Place the clams in a medium bowl and fill with water. Add about 1 teaspoon of flour and mix around; this will help the clams to release any sand. Heat a large skillet over medium heat for about 3 to 4 minutes, and add the clams and wine. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, checking after 10 minutes. When the clams begin to pop open, remove from them from the skillet, continuing to check every 2 minutes or if you hear clams popping open. Set aside to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, remove the top shell by twisting around the hinge, leaving the clam attached to the bottom shell. Take care not to get pieces of the shell in the clam. Rinse and dry the skillet.
Preheat the oven to 400° and line a small baking sheet with foil. Heat the same skillet over medium heat for several minutes; add the bacon and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the bacon begins to crisp. Add the chorizo, breaking up into small pieces with a wooden spoon and cook for 3 to 5 minutes more, until the bacon and chorizo are both golden and the chorizo is slightly crisp. Leaving the fat in the skillet, cook the shallot, bell pepper and garlic until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. You shouldn’t need to add salt, but season with freshly ground black pepper. Deglaze the pan with the 1/3 cup white wine and cook until the wine is almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Let cool slightly. Add the meat and Parmesan cheese to the vegetable mixture and stir to combine. Spread the clams in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Spoon a little less than 1 tablespoon on each clam. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, until the mixture is topping is golden brown. Arrange on a platter and sprinkle with chives.