Cooking School: Baked Clams

This New England classic in a mere 30 minutes? Our four simple steps show you how.

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Makes: 6 to 8 servingsPrep: 15 minutesCook: Bacon 6 minutes; clams 6 minutesBroil: 3 minutes

24 small to medium-size clams (each about 2 inches across; see Note)
4 slices bacon, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry unseasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons cooking liquid

NOTE: If you are unable to hand-pick the clams, order a few extra in case some are damaged and have to be discarded.

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Discard any clams that are cracked, chipped, or open. Soak in a bowl of water for 20 minutes to clean. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat for 6 minutes or until crispy. Set on paper towels to drain.

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Once clams have soaked, scrub one by one with a brush to remove any additional sand or barnacles. Fill a large pot with a steamer insert with 1 inch of water. Heat to simmering, add clams, and cover.

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Cook, covered, for 4 to 6 minutes, or until all shells open up. Take off heat; remove clams from pan, reserving liquid. Let clams cool slightly. Pull off top shell and remove clam from shell to a cutting board. Coarsely chop clams.

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Heat broiler. Place 24 clam shells on a baking sheet. In a large bowl, combine clams, bacon, bread crumbs, Parmesan, oregano, garlic powder, and black pepper. Stir to blend. Drizzle with olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the reserved cooking liquid. Stir until moist. Spoon stuffing into clam shells, dividing equally.

Broil stuffed clams for 2 to 3 minutes, until browned on top. Serve warm.

Per baked clam: 51 calories; 3g fat (1g sat.); 3g protein; 2g carbohydrate; 0g fiber; 73mg sodium; 7mg cholesterol

Copyright &copy 2007. Originally published in the August 2007 issue of Family Circle magazine.