Northeast Times

Cocktail hour clams

Deviled dishes: Ditch the eggs and pick up some clams for a dif­fer­ent cock­tail dish.

“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, saut&ea­cute;ed, 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.  

DEVILED CLAMS

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

Panko crumbs

1 or 2 Tb­sp. but­ter (chop in­to little bits)

Paprika

- Pre­heat oven to 400 de­grees.

- Line a bak­ing sheet with alu­min­um foil.

- In a large fry­ing pan, saut&ea­cute; 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.

COCK­TAIL SAUCE

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)

 
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