Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Summer Memories.. Stuffed clams

Recapturing a childhood memory is nearly impossible for some. My summer memory: Heading to the clam flats with my Dad to dig clams . I use to go clamming everyday with my Dad when the clam flats were approaching low tide. Bare feet and legs, a hat, a clam rake and a couple of buckets were all the gear we needed to take along. In those days we dug by the bushel or peck for fresh clams, unlike today where you buy clams by the pound and pay a tons for the shells! The clam flats were always plentiful and in under an hour we could easily have our bushel bucket filled to the brim. Back in those days soft shell, littlenecks or cherrystones, quahogs and razors were everywhere in the channels and I just loved digging alongside Dad. When searching for littlenecks, you’d feel for the clams with your feet and dig them out with your fork. If you get clams that are close to three inches, these are littlenecks and just plain scrumptious! They are the smallest and most flavorful hardshell clam.. a little salty, but what do you expect coming right out of the ocean, and slightly chewy and are the clam of choice for most clam recipes. You could use them for stuffed and clams casino too. Any bigger than that, and the clams are called quahogs. Grind them up or chop finely and they make a great clam chowder.

But mostly I remember how much fun, though tiring work it was , we had digging and horsing around… and besides, there is something thrilling about eating clams this fresh from the ocean just an hour ago :-) Some days my Nonna would have us kids pull for periwinkles that she would transform into a luscious spaghetti sauce. Other days, we steamed the clams, or baked them or stuffed them with delicious fillings. My Dad just loved stuffed clams and his were the best I’ve ever eaten and so everytime I make my seafood chowder and stuffed clams warm remembrances and the fondest of memories swirl around in my head. If you don’t live near the ocean as we do, you can buy fresh in your market. Normally you would just steam the clams in water after rinsing them off well, but Dad always like to steam them with a bit of wine and fresh herbs instead.

Dad’s Stuffed Clams Recipe

2 dozen littleneck clams
4 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons butter
3 TBLS olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 cups soft bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 slices of prosciutto, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dry basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
4 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoon dry white wine
ground black pepper
lemon wedges

Place the clams and two inches water or wine in a pan, cover and steam until clams open. Remember to discard any clams that didn’t open. Reserve the liquid, remove the clams from the shells and chop finely. Set aside. Wash the shells and place in shallow baking pan. Melt butter and olive oil in a skillet and saute the shallots and garlic until just tender. Add the bread crumbs, prosciutto, celery, parsley, basil, oregano, cheese, wine and pepper. Mix well. Stir in enough of reserved liquid to moisten crumbs but do not make mix soggy. Distribute chopped clams among the shells, top with bread crumb mixture . Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes and then broil until browned. Serve alone or with a good squeeze of fresh lemon wedge and a piping hot bowl of seafood chowder. Enjoy!


The Italian Dish said...

Nice. Littlenecks are my favorite. what nice memories.

YankeeSoaper said...

Mine too, Elaine and yes wonderful memories.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jady! Love your clams:)
hugs! xox

Karen said...

Mmm, you brought back some good memories! My mom used to make stuffed quahogs - sooo good!