This is quite an old-fashioned recipe but I really love it! A very simple appetizer but full of flavor. Make sure that you use fresh clams as this will provide the best result.
Hard-shell and soft-shell clams range from the tiny steamers and littlenecks to the huge geoduck, whose neck may protrude several feet from its shell, and giant sea clams, which can weigh several hundred pounds. The smallest clams are the best for eating whole, usually steamed or in sauces. Bigger clams are usually tougher and best minced, then added to the sauces, chowders, and other dishes.
- 12 large hard-shell clams, well scrubbed
- 1/3 cup fine dried bread crumbs, preferably homemade from coarse country bread
- 2 oz. (about 1/2 cup) bacon, finely chopped
- 2 medium shallots, minced
- 1 small green bell pepper, minced
- 1 small red bell pepper, minced
- 3 Tbsp. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- lemon wedges for serving
- fresh dill for serving
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Wash the clams and steam them in the boiling water (cover the pan) just until the shells open. Discard any clams that do not open. Remove the clams from their shells; snip off and discard the tips of the neck. Reserve the shells. Rinse the clams in the broth and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and red and green bell peppers. Cook, stirring often, until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until heated and fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Stir in breadcrumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, chopped parsley, salt, paprika and pepper.
Place 12 clam shells on a baking dish. Lay a clean steamed clam in a shell and spoon the stuffing mixture on a top, sprinkle with cheese, and dot with a butter.
Bake the stuffed clams until the crumbs are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately arrange on a platter or warmed individual plates. Serve with the lemon wedges and fresh dill.