Clams casino: a New England classic featuring local littlenecks, red bell pepper and the goodness of bacon. Sadly, as you’ll often find with clam sauce and clam chowder, so many places just don’t get it right. Problem solved! Now you can make them to perfection in your own home. That’s what we did yesterday. And now we can follow our own simple (and simply delicious) recipe for years to come.

CLAMS CASINO
2 slices thick-cut bacon
1 tablespoon butter, salted
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 dozen littlenecks, shucked
1/4 cup red bell pepper (about 1/3 or so of the pepper), finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine (we used Chardonnay)
2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano
sea salt or Kosher salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper
pink peppercorns (If you have them, they add nice flavor. Add just a bit, smashed between your fingers.)
3 tablespoons panko
Some chopped fresh parsley would be great in here, but we got lazy and didn’t feel like chopping anymore.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Line a baking sheet or pizza pan with foil. Place clams in pan.

Add bacon to large skillet over medium heat. Cook, remove from skillet, leaving bacon drippings in the pan. Blot with a paper towel, then finely chop.

Add about 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Then add red bell pepper, shallots and garlic. Sautee till shallots are tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add wine. Cook down about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Sprinkle Pecorino Romano and panko, stir to combine. Add chopped bacon.

Mound stuffing with a spoon atop each shucked clam. Bake for about 8-10 minutes till topping is golden. Serve with fresh slices of lemon to squeeze over the top. And over the top is just how I hope this dish rates with you when you make it. Buon appetito!

Clams Casino Capellini alla Speranza

Clams Casino Capellini alla Speranza is my partially Italian (like me!) way to describe my spin on fresh clam sauce, casino-style, over capellini. Believe it or not, I couldn’t find a single recipe for this dish when it crossed my mind last year. Now that I’ve come up with one, I’m happy to share it with you.

CLAMS CASINO CAPELLINI ALLA SPERANZA

4 cloves garlic
1 small shallot
extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds littlenecks in shells
fresh parsley, coarsely chopped (a generous handful)
1 cup white wine (I use Meridian chardonnay)
1 cup water
½ fresh lemon, squeezed
1 cup matchstick-sliced green and red bell peppers, roasted
4 pieces bacon
1 teaspoon capers

BAKIN’ BACON
Prepare 4 slices of bacon any way you see fit. I like to bake it in the oven on foil so it’s easy to clean up. Some say I’m lazy—I say I’m practical. Just about 10-12 minutes per side at 350 degrees F will do the trick. And you can roast the peppers simultaneously. Pat the excess grease with a paper towel and chop the bacon to bits!

Cookin’ clams

COOKIN’ CLAMS
So easy, really. Give the clams a serious rinse in cold water. Place them in a stockpot (or a fairly deep pan), cover them with water, wine and a handful of coarsely chopped parsley. Cook ’em till they open (this takes maybe 3-4 minutes), then remove them from their shells and coarsely chop them. Save that zuppa–it’ll become part of the sauce.

Ready to chop!

Pour the zuppa into a separate bowl. Now you can use the same stockpot or pan to sauté the garlic and shallot in some olive oil. You know the drill—don’t brown it!

Zuppa time!

Put your favorite lemon reamer to use to bypass the seeds and get all the fresh juice from ½ a lemon. Squeeze directly into the zuppa, which by now, has joined forces with the garlic and shallot you didn’t burn.

Everybody into the pool now—shallots, peppers, capers! But save those clams for last. Have a taste. Prepare to be impressed. Add clams back just to warm them. And now it’s time to eat!

zuppa di clams casino, clams casino cappellini, linguini & clam sauce

Buon appetito!

I didn’t have to tell you to get the water boiling for pasta, did I? Dinner is served–over capellini, of course–with pecorino Romano and fresh parsley on top! Don’t forget the crushed red pepper (I love Penzey’s Aleppo), too! Buon appetito! Now, that’s Italian!

Wanna bite?