CHRISTMAS CLAMS ITALIANO

Clams Casino was originally developed in 1917 in the Little Casino in Narragansett, Rhode Island, by a maître d'hôtel for a wealthy woman wanting something special for her holiday guests.

Good Housekeeping Great American Classics attributes the dish to Mrs. Paran Stevens and maître d'hôtel Julius Keller. Mrs Paran kindly named the dish after the hotel. The dish’s fame and popularity quickly spread across the United States, including to restaurants New Orleans, where oysters are substituted for clams.

In the early decades of the 20th Century, if a restaurant wanted to be of noted, it came up with a dish that involved the baking of shellfish. While there was a profusion of this type of menu offering, Clams Casino is one of the few surviving dishes, along with Oysters Rockefeller, from that era.

Clams Casino is still popular with Italian-Americans with a permanent spot on just about every trattoria menu in Little Italy, Manhattan. It is now considered an American culinary classic - a perfect Winter Holiday dish.

Thank you Mrs. Paran!

Clams Casino

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ounces sliced pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 18 medium Taylor Manila Clams, shucked, bottom shells reserved

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the pancetta and saute until crisp and golden, about 3 minutes.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a plate.
  4. Add the bell pepper, shallots, garlic, and oregano to the same skillet.
  5. Saute until the shallots are tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the wine and simmer until it is almost evaporated, about 2 minutes.
  7. Remove the skillet from the heat and cool completely.
  8. Stir the reserved pancetta and 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese into the vegetable mixture.
  9. Season the mixture, to taste, with salt and pepper.
  10. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
  11. Line a heavy large baking sheet with foil.
  12. Arrange the clams in the reserved shells on the baking sheet.
  13. Spoon the vegetable mixture atop the clams, dividing equally and mounding slightly.
  14. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan.
  15. Bake until the clams are just cooked through and the topping is golden, about 10 minutes.
  16. Arrange the clams on the platter and serve.