“He that sups with the devil needs a long spoon.”— English Proverb
Clams are low in calories, low in fat, and high in iron. They are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and lean protein, and they’re rich in vitamin B-12. They are good steamed, fried, sautéed, cooked with spaghetti, used in chowders or baked - especially when they are baked Deviled Clams.
Don’t let the “devil” fool you. The devil is not in the details of this recipe. This is really a very easy recipe, especially if you’re using fresh clam meat.
A culinary definition of deviled is to “chop food finely and mix with hot seasoning or sauce.” Prime examples are spicy deviled eggs and spicy deviled ham. Some hot sauces may contain the word “devil.” Then there’s Devil’s Food cake — although not spicy, it can be quite sinful if you eat that extra piece or two.
The following recipe uses chopped clams but not much hot seasoning. It is an old family favorite from my Aunt Mickie. The secret to achieving the correct consistency for the clam/bread mixture is to use bread crumbs from a loaf of Italian or French bread. Squishy white bread will not work well.
I usually buy fresh, chopped clam meat, available in the fresh fish department in many supermarkets. Canned clams packed in their own juices, not in water, work well also. If you use live clams, be sure the shells are closed tightly. If a slightly open clam begins to close when you tap the shell, it is still alive. If the shell does not move, discard it along with any broken clams as well. Scrub the clams with a stiff vegetable brush while holding them under cold running water.
Opening clams is not always an easy job. Clams shells can, however, be coaxed open if their muscles relax. Using a baking sheet with a rim, place clams in a single layer in a preheated 450 degrees oven for 2 or 3 minutes. Alternatively, put them in the freezer for 15 minutes. Either method should make opening the shells a little easier. Use a clam knife or a sturdy, blunt-tipped knife to open these mollusks. My dad used to cut through the muscles, or “eyes,” of the clams first. These “eyes” are located above the hinge on either side of the clam. Be sure to open the clams over a bowl to catch all clam juice.
Once empty, the shells can be scrubbed inside with a vegetable brush, and then buttered for use as individual serving dishes.
Some time ago, I purchased a variety of scallop shells that I butter and use when I make this recipe. I found more at a local flea market. These shells go right into the dishwasher and are cleaned easily for reuse. They are worth the initial investment, as they can be used again and again
There’s nothing evil, wicked or diabolical about deviled clams except how wickedly good-tasting they are. Go ahead, be tempted, and make the following recipe.
1 lb. fresh chopped clams in their juices, 3 6-oz. cans chopped clams in their juices or 12 large clams, juices included, chopped
¼ cup butter
1 small onion, chopped fine
5 cups coarsely chopped bread crumbs (from Italian or French bread)
½ tsp. pepper
1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
½ cup half-and-half or milk
¼ cup parsley, minced
1 or 2 Tbsp. butter (chop into little bits)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- In a large frying pan, sauté onion in butter until onion is soft and translucent.
- Add clams (and their juices), bread crumbs and pepper.
- Cook and stir mixture over moderate heat for 4 or 5 minutes.
- Add egg yolk, milk and parsley.
- Cook and stir mixture for a minute or two until mixture thickens, but is not boiling.
- Lightly butter shells, then fill each shell, dividing clam mixture evenly.
- Sprinkle panko crumbs lightly over each filled shell.
- Dot each shell with a few butter bits.
- Sprinkle filled shells lightly with paprika.
- Arrange shells on baking sheet, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until piping hot, and lightly brown on top.
Serves 4 or 5
I make the following cocktail sauce to go with the Deviled Clams.
½ cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. horseradish
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
2 drops Worcestershire sauce
- Mix all ingredients together thoroughly.
Eat well, live long, enjoy!
(Questions or tips can be sent to Donna Zitter Bordelon at WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the Northeast Times, 3412 Progress Drive, Suite C, Bensalem, PA 19020)