Although appetizers aren't the first thing that come to mind when one thinks of Thanksgiving dinner, I like to give my family something to nibble on while they wait for the big meal. Usually I serve a luxurious bite like crab cakes or baked brie with mushrooms. This year, I'm offering a classic seafood crowd-pleaser, clams casino.
Even my mom, who's not into clams, enjoys these savory, finger-licking-good, bacon-and-shallot-topped clams. They can be assembled in the morning and baked later, making them ideal for an event like Thanksgiving. These delicious clams are also an excellent addition to a cocktail party menu, so bookmark the recipe now.
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 (2 1/2-inch) littleneck clams, shucked, bottom shells reserved*
- Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until crisp and golden, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a plate.
- Add the bell pepper, shallots, garlic, and oregano to the same skillet and saute until the shallots are tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the wine and simmer until it is almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and cool completely.
- Stir the reserved pancetta and 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese into the vegetable mixture. Season the mixture, to taste, with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
- Line a heavy large baking sheet with foil. Arrange the clams in the reserved shells on the baking sheet. Spoon the vegetable mixture atop the clams, dividing equally and mounding slightly. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan.
- Bake until the clams are just cooked through and the topping is golden, about 10 minutes.
- Arrange the clams on the platter and serve.
*Instead of shucking the clams, I steamed them over the stove until they just opened. Then I ripped the shells apart discarding the tops and leaving the bottoms intact.
- Seafood, Appetizers