Sit the clams on a pan in a preheated 400 F oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool enough to handle, and open them, separating the clams from the liquor. Strain the liquor to remove any shell or sand. You should have 1 cup or a little more. If not, add water. Reserve
Jullienne the lips of the clams, dice them fine along with the adductor muscles. Chop the bodies into medium fine dice. Reserve
Cook the bacon fat, butter, garlic, pepper, and the oregano together to soften but not brown the garlic. Add the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon to make a roux. Add the clam liquor and bring to the boil with constant stirring. The mixture will thicken considerably. Make sure it gets a full boil to cook all the flour. Add the chopped clams and parsley and cook briefly, just till the clams change color, about 1-2 minutes.
Add the bread crumbs. The mixture will be only slightly sticky. Spoon mixture into clean clam shells, dividing the mix evenly and rounding the tops. Sprinkle with dry crumbs and shake some paprika on to color. You can taste the mix at this point. I doubt you will need any salt.
Bake 15-20 minutes in a 400 F oven. The top should crust and brown lightly. Serve with a wedge of lemon and parsley. Makes 12 stuffed clams, which is a handy number, seeing as you have that many shells. This method really makes a little clam go a long way, as this was a 'give away' starter item on the Shore Dinner. We did them a tray at a time, and kept them warm under the heater. Waiters or bus boys would pick them up as needed.
Notes: Do not confuse this item with Baked Clams Oreganato, where cherrystone clams are opened and topped with a gratin of olive oil, garlic, oregano and parsley and are baked briefly in a very hot oven to just set the gratin.
© 1996, Steve K. Holzinger. All rights reserved.
This page originally published as part of the electronic Gourmet Guide between 1994 and 1998.
Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.
Modified July 2007
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