- Course: Antipasto/Mezze, Appetizer
- Skill Level: Moderate
- Cost: Inexpensive
- Favorited: 5 Times
Vongole al Forno con Pancetta
Italian clams are very small-about the size of a man’s thumbnail-so it is not surprising that this dish is never presented in italy. Only large clams are suitable for stuffing, so clams cooked this way are really an American-Italian dish. This delectable appetizer requires eastern littleneck clams. They should not be larger than a silver dollar or they will be too tough.
- 12 live littleneck clams
- Cornmeal or all-purpose flour
For the topping:
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped or passed through a garlic press
- 1 tablespoon fine dried bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon chopped roasted red sweet pepper (see Note) or bottled red sweet pepper
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped pancetta or bacon
- Dry white wine for sprinkling
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
1. Place the clams in a bowl of cool water with a few big pinches of salt and a handful of cornmeal or flour. Leave in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight so that the clams will purge themselves of sand or other foreign matter. Scrub the clams to remove exterior dirt, and place them in a bowl of very hot water for 5 to 10 minutes to facilitate opening them.
2. Meanwhile, preheat a broiler. In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the topping and mix well.
3. Working over a bowl to catch any clam juice, insert a clam knife or a small, sturdy paring knife between a clam’s shells and, with a horizontal movement, open the clam, thrusting the blade toward the muscle on the base of the shell. Detach the flesh from the shell cavity to make it easier to lift out when eating. Leave the whole clam meat in one of its shells and discard the other shell. Repeat with the other clams.
4. Spoon an equal amount of the topping atop each clam. Drizzle a little of the clam juice from the bowl over the topping, then sprinkle lightly with a little wine to keep the clams moist and prevent them from burning. Place the clams in a flameproof baking dish and place the dish 9 inches from the broiler. Broil for about 6 minutes, watching carefully to be sure the topping does not burn. If it browns too quickly, move the rack farther from the flame and add a little more clam juice or wine to the top of the clams before returning them to the oven. Serve hot with lemon wedges.
See method for roasting peppers .
© 1993 Julia della Croce
Nutritional information includes 1/8 teaspoon of added salt per serving, but does not include white wine for sprinkling.