Baked Clams with Apple & Bacon.Photo Credit : Michael Piazza
In this baked clams recipe from chef Jeremy Sewall, the clams aren’t hidden; they’re given texture with minced apple, which brightens their flavor. Shucking clams takes some finesse—there’s no shame in asking your fishmonger to do it for you.
12 cherrystone clams
1/2 cup finely diced bacon
2 tablespoons minced leek (from 1 small leek), white part only
1 tablespoon ground paprika
1 medium-size apple, peeled and diced small
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
To serve: 2 cups kosher salt and 2 tablespoons water
Shuck the clams, reserving the meat and one half of each shell. Thoroughly clean the reserved shell and set aside. Rinse the clams to remove any sand and chop finely. Keep cold until ready to use.
Preheat your oven to 400° and set a rack to the upper-third position.
In a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the bacon until browned. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the rendered fat and reduce heat to medium. Add the leek, paprika, and apple to the pan and cook 2 minutes, stirring often, being careful not to burn. Remove from the heat and fold in the clams, tarragon, ½ cup of the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, and juice; season to taste with salt and pepper.
In a medium-size bowl, combine 2 cups of salt with 2 tablespoons of water to form a stiff paste. On a rimmed baking sheet, use half of the salt paste to create two 1-inch-high “strips” to hold the clams in place as they cook.
Fill each shell loosely with the clam mixture. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of breadcrumbs evenly over the clams, nestle them into the salt strips, and bake until they’re just beginning to sizzle, 8 to 10 minutes. Raise your oven’s temperature to broil and cook an additional minute or until evenly browned.
On a serving platter, use the remaining salt paste to prepare a second set of mounds and nestle the cooked clams on top. Serve warm.