This baked clam recipe will wow any party guest, and guess what? All of the work is done ahead of time, so you can have fun with your guests as they bake in the oven. The bacon adds a great savory, salty touch to the clams, and they look quite impressive!

029_Guar_Baked Clams with Bacon_art_r2

Baked Clams with Bacon
Recipe from Old-School Comfort Food by Alex Guarnaschelli
Serves 4

20 medium littleneck clams, thoroughly scrubbed or all sand and grit
¼ cup dry white wine
4 slices bacon, cut into thin slices crosswise
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 scallions (green and white parts), thinly sliced
2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt and white pepper
½ cup plain dried bread crumbs
1 small bunch curly parsley, leaves finely chopped (1 heaping tablespoon)

1. Prepare the clams: Heat a large skillet over high heat and add the clams in a single layer. Add the wine and cook until the clams open, 5 to 8 minutes. Use kitchen tongs to remove the clams from the skillet as they open. Gather them in a large bowl. Allow them to cool for a few minutes and then twist off the top shell, leaving the clam in its bottom shell. Slide a paring knife under each clam to dislodge it from the shell but leave it inside the shell. Refrigerate until ready to cook.

2. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

3. Cook the bacon: Rinse and dry the large skillet and cook the bacon in it over medium heat until crisp, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain on a paper towel and reserve the bacon fat in the pan.

4. Make the bread crumb topping: Put the butter in a food processor and add the scallions, garlic, lemon zest, and half of the lemon juice. Pulse to blend. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the reserved bacon fat and the bread crumbs and stir to blend. Spoon a little of the bread crumb mixture on a baking sheet and cook in the oven until golden brown and bubbling, 3 to 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed.

5. Bake the clams: Remove the clams from the refrigerator and loosely mold some of the bread crumb mixture into each of the shells so the clam body is somewhat covered. Arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until the tip of a small knife inserted into a clam comes out warm to the touch, 10 to
15 minutes.

6. Remove from the oven and preheat the broiler. Broil the clams until well browned, about a minute, watching them constantly so they don’t burn. Remove them from the oven. Squeeze a little lemon juice over each clam. Top each clam with some bacon and parsley. Serve immediately.