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A Classic Italian Pasta, Transformed into Baked Clams

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This week I couldn’t stop thinking about baked clams.

I’ve been dreaming of a baked clam in amatriciana sauce, the classic Roman preparation with guanciale, tomato, Pecorino, and a little chile. (In regions of America where guanciale is hard to find, pancetta is often used as a substitute.)

Photo by James Ransom

So I started testing, and in tasting through different versions of my “baked clams amatriciana,” I decided that whole littleneck clams can be chewy and hard to eat. The solution? Steam open the clams, remove the meat from the shells, and dice it. Mix this with the sauce, add it all back into the shell, and bake until bubbling and fragrant.

And almost every step of this recipe can be done ahead of time. As guests arrive, just fill the empty clam shells with the refrigerated clam mixture, top them with chopped parsley and finely grated Pecorino, and throw them in the oven.

You’ll only need 1/4 cup of amatriciana sauce to dress a dozen baked clams, though—and it’s not practical to make only 1/4 cup of sauce. So make these baked clams, then keep the leftover sauce on hand to add to quick pasta dinners, pots of beans, and toast all week long.

Baked Clams Amatriciana

Baked Clams Amatriciana

Josh Cohen Josh Cohen
Makes 12 baked clams

For the Clams

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 12 littleneck clams, rinsed in cold water to remove grit
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 bay leaf

For the Sauce

  • 1/3 pound pancetta, finely diced (or guanciale)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • One 14 1/2-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Olive oil
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Tags: Sauce, Pasta, Seafood