Clams Casino – “the recipe”

I had to add “the recipe” after noticing that there’s a musician who, for some reason changed his name from Mike Volpe to Clams Casino.  I LOVE clams casino, but I don’t think I love them enough to change my name to Clams Casino.  I just wonder why a guy named Mike Volpe would decide to do that – was he sitting in a restaurant and wanted to make sure he remembered the delectable appetizer he was eating and decided “hey if I start calling myself Clams Casino, I’ll always remember what I want to order”.

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I finally have everything put away in the kitchen cabinets – maybe not completely organized, but at least out of boxes.  I think I need a class in the Bosch stove though since I haven’t had any luck starting the warming oven when the large oven is on…”Yes, Chancellor Merkel, I’ve read the instructions on this and followed your directions”.  I’ll give it another go when I’m not desperate to get a meal on the table and if it doesn’t seem to be working, I’ll call the store where I bought it for instructions.

Speaking of the stove…it’s a flattop with a triple burner that has options for small, medium and large pots, a small burner in the back, and 2 small burners on the left with a bridge unit between them which can accommodate a very large pot or rectangular pan like a turkey roasting pan.  The thing is that for safety purposes, if you don’t have a pot on a unit and turn it on, it will shut off after a certain amount of time.  That’s a good feature since how often have I thought I turned on the back unit only to walk back in and found the front unit burning brightly red.  The downside to that safety feature is that if you have banged up old pots that don’t have flat bottoms covering enough surface area of the unit, it will assume there’s no pot on and shut down.  This happened to me when I was cooking Chicken with Mascarpone Sauce & Mustard.  I was so busy cooking the chicken on the front unit that I didn’t noticed the noodle pot in back had shut off and the noodles were still crunchy when I was ready to serve the meal.

The next meal, I had 3 units going and was on the look-out for wobblers.  I kept peeking under the pots and pans and the minute I saw the unit go dark, the bad pot would get tossed faster than you can say Clams Casino and replaced with a new one from the stack on hand.  (I have tons of pots and pans – my own cast iron from when I got married, some from my mother’s house, even more from John’s mother’s and aunt’s houses).  By the time that meal got cooked, I had piles of pots and pans in the basement headed for the give-away shed at the dump and I was looking online at the cost of brand new pots and pans – wow is all I can say!  My husband kept saying how he didn’t think they were that wobbly – but then again, he was probably the one whose head dented them.  And then I read some more of the stove instructions….”units will cycle on and off while cooking to prevent the glass top from shattering”.

Oooh…  “John would you please bring all those boxes back upstairs?”  Now that first pot that didn’t cook the noodles was definitely a goner but as it turns out, all of the other pots and pans were fine – just victims of the unit’s cycling.  I apologize to whoever was going to inherit lots of pots and pans from the shed next week but I’m tapped out right now with Christmas shopping and all that.  I’ve rescued almost all of my pots and pans so let’s get on to the Clams Casino.  This is an appetizer that I think a lot of people will order in a restaurant but shy away from making at home because of having to shuck the clams.  I’ll tell you about a little trick for helping to make that easier.

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The topping amount is for about 10-12 fresh cherrystone clams and best prepared before opening clams.  The ratio of ingredients is approximate and looks about like this:

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–  Olive Oil – 2 TBL
–  Bacon- 3-4 slices
–  Thin strips of red bell peppers, 3-4 thin slices, diced
–  Sweet onion,  about 1/4 cup, minced
–  Garlic cloves, 2, minced
–  Oregano – a dash or 2
–  White wine- 1/3 cup
–  Tabasco sauce – dash, more if you like but you can set some in a dish for dipping
–  Freshly grated Parmesan – 6 TBL
–  Bread crumbs – 1/4 cup

In a heavy saucepan, cook bacon strips and drain excess fat.  Using either a little of the bacon fat or olive oil, sauté the bell pepper and onions until translucent, then add garlic for just a minute.  Sprinkle oregano then add the wine, simmering until it’s almost evaporated.  Add a dash or 2 of Tabasco/hot sauce and about half of the Parmesan cheese.  Stir in breadcrumbs – you might not need 1/4 cup, just enough to hold the mixture together.   Set aside while preheating oven to 500°.

Making the mixture’s the easy part, but sometimes opening the clams up can be a little difficult & dangerous.  Rinse your clams, then place in a foil lined baking pan and stick them in the oven for a couple of minutes.  This will help them to open up a little.  Use an oven mitt for the hand that will be holding the clam and a short bladed sturdy knife to completely open the clam at the hinges.  Believe me, use the mitt or some kind of protective glove because you WILL end up in the emergency room.  Find a spot near the hinge where the shells have separated and work the blade in there, then twist to open.  You’re clam will be stuck to the top and bottom like the top clam here:

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Rinse the clam again to get rid of any sand, then run your knife blade under each clam bottom to release from the shell.  Pull one of the shells off leaving the whole clam on one of the shells (bottom clam).  If you have any clams that haven’t opened and you can’t get the blade between the shells, discard since that’s a dead clam and you DO NOT want to eat those!

Line the clams back up on the foil lined baking dish, load them up with the topping and bake for no more than 10 minutes.  When the clams come out sprinkle each with the remaining Parmesan cheese.  Not so bad – right?

I served these with baked haddock that had just a little sprinkling of breadcrumbs, butter, and lemon.

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See the little butterfly dish with the red sauce?  That was Tabasco, really just for the picture but my husband assumed it was some kind of dipping sauce and before I could warn him, he’d drenched his first clam and with the Tabasco dripping off, popped it into his mouth.  Uh oh… while I was enjoying my clams thoroughly, he was crying complaining that he couldn’t feel his lips or taste anything.  Sort of like when he grabbed my arthritis cream thinking it was toothpaste and brushed his teeth with it.   Maybe you like spicy (and he does) but it was a bit much even for him.

One final word of warning:  Remember those shells and dead clams that you tossed away?  Don’t leave them in your kitchen trash for too long.  It’s like that saying about fish and overnight guests…and reminds me of a little situation years ago.  We took our daughter to the beach where she collected buckets of sea glass and shells.  About a week later I went out to read on the porch and GAG!!!  I thought I had a dead body under the porch and wasn’t sure who to call until I realized that Niki had collected buckets of of live mussels and clams and shoved them under the porch a week in 80° heat.

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28 thoughts on “Clams Casino – “the recipe”

  1. You actually buy the clams and shuck them? They look so good. Poor John. That guy always has a story. So happy you love your kitchen and the new “toys” are becoming a bit more familiar to you. Tree up yet?

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    • Sure did buy the clams – got a bag of them at Marketbasket for about 50 cents/clam. Got to have them fresh & whole or you’d have to make baked stuffed clams with chopped clams…hmmm.
      We just got the tree up and decorated Monday. Candles in the windows so we’re good to go.

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  2. Maybe your warming oven won’t work while you have a caged bird in the kitchen, Di. You didn’t think of that, did you? 😉 I’ve never had Clams Casino, so I’m not changing my name, but they do sound delicious, and I could well believe that someone found them so appealing that he wanted to remember the taste every time someone called out to him. And hooray for rescued pots – the cycling on and off thing would have driven me barmy if I hadn’t known about it! 🙂

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  3. Sounds like you’ve had a few interesting adventures! Tabasco as *sauce* is intriguing, but more in the way of ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ than in the delicious sense! 😉 On the other hand, it’s probably a good thing your spouse tried the denture cream as *toothpaste* and not sauce! (Bonus: he probably won’t ever get an arthritic jaw!) Good thing the clams turned out great. 😀

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    • Excellent comments Kathryn! I’ll have to ask John if his jaw is feeling younger. Thing is he does like hot sauce & will even use wasabi which I personally stay far away from, but when something is so soaked in heat, it’s kind of hard to taste anything else.

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  4. What a great recipe and fun ‘read’ !! I laughed out loud at the part where your husband dredged a clam in the sauce…. after which his mouth was on fire…. the poor guy… Glad you’re getting your kitchen back in order – it’s a lot of work. One of my sons and his wife recently redid their kitchen – it took FOREVER. (You know the feeling..) I visited them recently and fell in love with their kitchen/dining space. (They knocked through a wall into their formal dining room & it’s now part of the kitchen.) I was so jealous of their new space. I told them, “Hey, I ‘deserve’ this kitchen!! I love my own kitchen but I don’t have nearly enough counter space… So I’ll just continue to ‘covet’ theirs!!

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    • One kitchen planner did suggest knocking a wall down into our dining room but it was a load bearing wall & the position of the room wouldn’t have really added to the flow. I’ll tell you though, I’m loving the layout of this kitchen. It’s amazing how with just a few changes I have so much extra counter space and I’m doing less walking from one end of the room to the other. We’d been thinking of re-doing it with the intent of helping the house to sell better but frankly, I’ve got no interest in moving now – I’m happy.

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  5. Clams Casino were very often served at our home on Christmas Eve. Dad would shuck them and Mom took care of the rest. The few times I’ve tried to make them, the shucking went so badly that I ended up sautéing them and serving them with pasta. Now, though, Diane, you’ve given me renewed hope. Clams Casino may one day return to my table. That will be a good day. Not good enough for me to change my name, but good nonetheless. 🙂

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    • I used to fight with clams myself & ended up with enough wounds to decide it just wasn’t worth it, but that little trick of just a few minutes in the oven really works. I admire those clam & oyster shuckers at the North End festival cranking out piles of clams. Of course some of them are wearing the metal mesh gloves. I think I’ll be putting a special knife on my Christmas list too since it would be easier having a rounded tip instead of the sharp point on my paring knife I’ve been using.
      I was just ogling your ravioli post though – maybe you could change your name to “Egg-filled Ravioli” – that would be a good one & I don’t think it’s used yet.

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  6. Who knew there would be such an education with new age appliances Diane. Good on you for getting it all sorted out and rescuing your pots and pans.
    I would really like to know the reason why Mike Volpe changed his name to Clams Casino – too funny!
    Have a super day.
    🙂 Mandy xo

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    • Mandy I don’t know if I’m just getting old or senile but these appliances have so many options that I just keep my books on the counter for now. I’ll probably copy the most important pages & laminate them. Can’t even imagine what will happen when I need a pet sitter staying at the house. They’ll never figure it all out.
      Clams Casino – I have no idea & my only thought might be that over here we sometimes use the word “clams” to mean money. Maybe he makes a lot of “clams”?

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  7. How in the world would you even know about this crazy guy and the name change??!?!? You crack me up! Sounds like the kitchen is coming right along, save for that darn warming oven…maybe you could invite Ms. Merkel over for the holidays, and see if by chance SHE knows the secret…just thinking out loud….

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    • Well all you have to do is google Clams Casino & rather than food, you mostly get this other guy. Guess he’s more popular than what I know as Clams Casino. The kitchen is pretty much all put together again & really the only thing now is to paint. We’ve been splattering sample colors all over the walls & don’t like any of them so I think what I’m going to do is just cover that up & use the color I’ve had which I like (just wish it was a shade darker). I don’t need to be painting a kitchen, 2 hallways, & bath before Christmas.

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  8. I did not all of the woes of cooking on an electric cook top. I have gas burners and sometimes they can be finicky to turn on but once they are on-they are on. Clams look fantastic and what a supportive hubby for helping you get the pan situation sorted. Happy cooking. BAM

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    • I’ve never had a gas stove but everyone says that’s what ‘real’ chefs use. Never quite understood it since I would guess you’re still cooking in a pan & not on top of the flame but I guess it’s all what you’re used to. Our only option out here in farmland is electric unless we wanted to put a big propane tank in our back yard which kind of makes me nervous.
      Heck, I’m glad we got those pans squared away – I’m still trying to figure out why they’re so expensive!

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  9. Seafood selection around here (in northeast Texas) is pretty much limited to — bottom-dwelling, non-saltwater inhabitants (catfish). I suppose a day trip to Whole Foods might just be in order, because your Clams Casino has me jonesing. — Since the name is already taken by a NJ rapper (surprise, surprise), maybe I’ll change my name to Oysters Rockefeller. 😉

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    • Adam, we are so lucky & I forget that other areas in the States & other countries don’t have these in plentiful supply. I could sit & just eat Clams Casino, Oysters Rockefeller (hmmm, thinking that’s a good one for Christmas Eve), & clams on the half shell all day.
      Oysters Rockefeller – now that would be a great name for you. I’d start this week at work telling everyone “from now on, call my Oysters”. Let me know how that goes over will ya?

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