Author Notes: Every summer my family goes to Cape Cod for a week or two of vacation, where we laze about, swim, and (perhaps most importantly) eat. We try to get in a clamming expedition at least once each summer so that we can make Clams Casino with super-fresh clams. Digging in sandy glop for delicious bivalves can leave your toes cut from shell pieces and blackened from the muddiness but in the end, these hot, broiled clams are worth every scratch. Invite some friends on a summer's eve, and slurp up some savory shellfish as the sun goes over the yardarm.
(I feel I should note here that I have no idea where this recipe comes from-it's just a thing we've always made. It may have official origins elsewhere; anyhow, this is my family's version) - summersavory
Serves as many as you like!
- Clams (we like half a dozen small ones per person, for a nice appetizer)
- Cornmeal (if using)
- Sweet peppers, finely diced (you don't need all that much, just a bit for each clam)
- Bacon, cut into pieces ~1 1/2" long (1 bit per clam)
- Lemon wedges, for juice
- Ideally, this recipe starts with you, the cook, going out at low tide to dig some clams on the Atlantic coast. If you're in the right place in the right season and you happen to have a shellfish license, dig out your tide charts and go get your toes in the mud! (If not, then just skip all this and go on to step 2.) Bring your clams home in a bucket of seawater. Your best bet is to start these the night before you want to serve them. Put your bucket of clams and water someplace where the clams' spitting won't dampen anything important (they're champion spitters, you know), scatter a generous amount of cornmeal over the water, and leave the clams overnight. They will take the cornmeal in and put out most of the sand and grit they've accumulated-it helps to clean them out and makes eating them more pleasant.
- 30 minutes to an hour before you want to eat your clams (depending on how many clams you have to deal with-more clams take more time, of course!), scrub the outsides of the shells clean and put them on the stove in your biggest pot with an inch or two of water in the bottom. Cover the pot and steam the clams until their shells open (it's hard to predict how long this will take, but I've found it can be up to 15 minutes sometimes). As the topmost ones open, remove them, in their shells, to a bowl so that the ones underneath aren't too weighted down to open. If some of the shells don't open at all, discard those clams; they aren't safe to eat if they don't open.
- Get out some baking sheets, and start setting out your opened clams. Twist the shells apart, and put each clam in a half-shell on a baking sheet. If you have really big clams, you may want to cut them in half and split them between two shells. You don't need to worry about spreading them out-fill the baking sheets as full as you like.
- Into each half-shell with a clam in it, place a few bits of sweet pepper. Then, cover the the clam with a piece of bacon, and squeeze some lemon juice over the top.
- Turn on your broiler, and broil the trays of clams until the bacon is crisp and sizzling (it takes a few minutes, but the exact time will depend on your broiler. Keep an eye on them while they cook and you'll be fine). Remove the trays, and serve the clams immediately! The shells will be hot, so be careful, but they are at their best straight out of the broiler.