Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Clams Casino

This recipe for Clams Casino was a favorite of my father-in-law. It's a favorite appetizer for us and the best part is that it can be made ahead of time and then baked just before serving.

The Mister thinks the recipe came from a friend of his father's who got it from a restaurant owner. So, uh, guess that's a friend from a friend.

We love this recipe but where this recipe can go wrong is adding too much breadcrumbs or vegetables. I recommend adjusting both of those to your taste. Also, Clams Casino tends to be on the salty side. So if you want to cut down on the saltiness, use lower sodium bacon.

1/2 lb bacon, chopped finely
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1/2 red or orange bell pepper, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small carrot, diced
3 (6 oz each) cans of clams (minced, chopped, whole, combination of)
1 tsp parsley flakes
1 Tbsp lemon juice
3/4 - 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, more to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.

Sauteed bacon in large pan until crisp. Add onion, red bell pepper, celery and carrot. Cook at medium heat until vegetables are soft (about 4-5 minutes). Drain and reserve the juice from 1 can of clams. Add clams with juice from 2 cans and 3/4 cups of breadcrumb to pan. Cook mixture for 2 minutes. If the mixture is too wet, add 1/8 cup of breadcrumbs at a time, mixing well after each addition. The texture should be similar to stuffing. I don't like too much breadcrumb filler but need enough to bring everything together. Add parsley, lemon juice, and Parmesan cheese. Mix well.

Transfer mixture to baking pan. I use a 9-inch Pyrex pie pan. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, the edges will turn slightly darker than the center. The main thing here is to heat everything all the way through and to slightly crust the top.

After removing from oven, if the mixture is too dry, pour some of the leftover clam juice over the mixture. At this point, it can be served as is with crackers or toasted bread (or anything else you like for that matter). Here's a picture of the center of the mixture after baking (sorry, a little unsteady with the camera).

Or if you want to get all fancy, put cleaned halved clam shells on a baking sheet and fill each shell with a scoop of the mixture. Then broil the clam shells for a couple of minutes to brown the top. Serve hot with lemon wedges and/or hot sauce.

We love it with lots of various hot sauce and Ritz crackers. This is how I eat it. You can see the chunks of clams, bits of vegetables and bacon.

Hope y'all are having a good week. Now go and eat well.


KirkK said...

Mmmmm looks good!

Barefoot Plumies said...

Thanks, Kirk! Leftover heats up well, too.