Clams stuffed with Pepperoncini, Bacon & Bell Peppers
You will need:
A 50 count bag of Little neck clams, cleaned and soaked [soak the clams for 10-15 minutes in cold water with a 2 Tbsp Cornmeal and a pinch of Kosher Salt. This will help them spit out some of the grit they may contain. Discard any dead or questionable ones, its not worth it].
3 strips of Bacon, small dice
1 medium Shallot, small dice
7 Pepperoncini peppers, cut into small pieces and drained on paper towels
1/2 small Green or Yellow Bell Pepper, small dice
1/4 tsp Dried Oregano
1/4 Cup chopped Flat Leaf Parsley, set 2 Tbsp aside for garnish
3/4 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
1/3 Cup White Wine
1/4 Cup Vegetable or Chicken Stock
Kosher Salt & Pepper, as needed
2 juicy Lemons, cut into 8 wedges each, for garnish
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling, or softened butter [as needed]
1. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Fill a large saucepan with 1.5 inches of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, add a pinch of salt and all of the clams. Cover the pot and allow the clams to cook until they just pop open. You may need to give them a stir after 1.5 minutes to jostle them a bit and make sure the clams on top are exposed to direct heat as well. The clams should all be opened within 4 minutes.
2. Pour the clams into a collander and drain the liquid. [IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO RESERVE THE LIQUID AND USE IT IN PLACE OF WINE OR STOCK, PLACE THE COLLANDER IN A LARGE BOWL, THEN RUN THE COOKING LIQUID THROUGH A FINE MESH SIEVE LINED WITH A COFFEE FILTER. SUBSTITUTE LIQUID AS PER RECIPE] Set them aside to cool.
3. Add the bacon to a cool saute pan and render it out over medium-high heat. Once the bacon has begun to crisp, add the shallots, oregano, and a pinch of salt. Saute for 1 minute or until the shallots are translucent and then add the bell pepper and another small pinch of salt. Cook for an additional 2 minutes.
4. Add the wine and reduce slightly, then reduce the heat to medium-low, stir in the pepperoncini, and fold in the chopped parsley & panko breadcrumbs along with a pinch of salt and a few turns of cracked black pepper.
5. Once the breadcrumbs are incorporated with the other ingredients add 1/4 Cup stock and gently mix with the breadcrumb mixture. If the filling is still too dry, add a little more stock until it is moist and softened, but not mushy. If you accidentally add too much wine, add more breadcrumbs to absorb the excess moisture.
6. Taste the stuffing and adjust the seasoning as necessary, then set it aside to cool while you separate your clams.
Back to the clams...
7. Pull off the top half of the clam shell and then detach the clam from the abductor muscle. Leave the meat sitting in the half-shell, place on a baking sheet. Repeat with each clam.
8. Once you have all of your clams lined up on a tray begin stuffing them with the cooled breadcrumb mixture [Roughly 1-1.5 tsp per clam, depending on the size of the shell.].
9. Now that all of the clams are stuffed, drizzle them with olive oil or put a small smidge of butter on top of each one. Transfer to the top rack of your pre-heated oven and cook for 3-4 minutes or until fragrant and golden, be very careful not to burn them!
10. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with reserved chopped parsley & lemon wedges.