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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Baked clams a la Dat

This is my dad's famous baked clam recipe. It equals summer for me.

50 littleneck clams (whatever is the smallest size)
1/3 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped (parsley flakes are OK, but fresh is best)
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 level teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 c. olive oil (extra virgin is not necessary, just use good quality olive oil)
Frank's Red Hot hot sauce
good crusty bread

1. Soak the clams in salted room-temperature water for several hours to clean themselves out. You may have to change the water several times; the clams tend to disgorge lots of sand.
2. While the clams are cleaning themselves out, mix up the sauce. Combine the parsley, garlic, celery seed, cloves, and olive oil. Set the sauce aside for several hours to allow the flavors to combine.
3. When the clams are sufficiently clean, drain the water, rinse them off one more time, and pat them dry with a clean tea towel. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
4. Put the clams in a single layer in a high-sided baking dish. Pour the sauce over the clams.
5. Bake the clams until they are all open and the sauce has reduced. This could take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. The clams are particularly good after they've been broiled a bit to crisp the tops up. When the clams are all open, turn on the broiler and give the clams 2-3 minutes under the broiler. Just be careful not to burn them (if the garlic burns, they're garbage).
6. Serve the clams with warm, crusty bread and Frank's Red Hot.

Notes: Be careful when eating the clams immediately out of the oven; the shells get super hot. I have burned my fingers and mouth many times on hot clam shells. We dip the bread into the clam juice and I joke that the clams are an excuse to eat disgustingly large hunks of bread. You can also use this recipe for linguine and clams: Add 3/4 cup of white wine to the sauce and allow the clams to steam on the stove.