Seafood appetizers are a great party starter. My mom's Italian stuffed baked clams recipe is one of my favorite appetizers now as an adult. As a kid, I wouldn't touch the things. But acquired taste has led me to love fish, whiskey, and vegetables.
Baked clams are a staple at my house and my in-laws' house every Christmas Eve. On the one hand, my in-laws prefer the clam to stay intact, while my family prefers the clam to be chopped up and mixed with the breadcrumbs. I tend to side with my family on this, although Marisa likes the clam to be intact.
Finding 7 fish to make on Christmas Eve can be daunting, but stuffed clams, is an easy one to put on the menu. They don't take long to make, especially if you buy them already shucked. Just ask your fishmonger to give you the clams after he cleans and shucks them so you can fill them with your stuffing.
Purging the Clams
If you bought the clams as is, then we'll start by purging the clams of sand and debris. If you bought them pre-shucked, just skip to the next step.
To purge the clams, basically, put them in a salty, ice bath for 20 minutes before shucking them. This will allow them to "suck" in the fresh water and filter out any of the sand. I don't know the actual science behind this, but this is how it was explained to me.
After you remove the clams from the bath, rinse and scrub the clams of any debris to clean the shells. Then shuck the clams. I'm not going to get into how to shuck the clams today. Hopefully one day I'll be good enough at it to teach other people to do it. Basically, you use a shucking knife, and slide it into the side of the clam with some force. Then twist the knife and pop them open. My father-in-law taught me how to do this, and I think it's best to learn in person. I'll definitely put a video up soon of how to do it though.
Creating the Stuffing for Stuffed Clams, Italian Style
I'm sure plenty of other nationalities make baked clams and while they'll all be somewhat similar, this is an Italian variation. The first thing you want to do is clean out the shell with warm water removing any debris.
You'll need the following ingredients:
- The clams (obviously)
- Salt and Pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Minced garlic
- Fresh chopped Parsley
Roughly chop the clams and then mix them with all of the ingredients. The other option is to leave the clam intact, place it in the bottom of the shell, and then put the stuffing on top. I prefer to mix it all together.
Combine all of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Stuff the clams with about 1-2 tablespoon of stuffing depending on the size of the shells you are using. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil on top of each clam once they are stuffed.
Preheat your oven to 350°. Bake for 15 minutes and then broil for 1-2 minutes to brown the tops of the clams. They should have a nice golden brown edge like these once they are removed from the oven. Watch them carefully when you have the broiler on because they will burn quickly.
Serving Italian Stuffed Baked Clams
When serving the stuffed clams, I like to accompany them with some lemon and garnish them with parsley. Put them alongside your shrimp cocktail and serve them with some Sauvignon Blanc. There is nothing like seafood and white wine. Some people choose to use a spoon, but I eat baked clams right off the shell.
Baked clams are a great recipe to start kids on seafood. I know I was a picky eater growing up, but the stuffing is really flavorful, and although I wouldn't lie to my kid and say, "you won't taste any fish," it is objectively less fishy than other styles of seafood.
I hope my kid won't be a picky eater like his dad was. But if he is, well, more Italian stuffed baked clams for us. No love lost there. Last night he did try our mussels in white wine sauce though! It was a very proud dad moment. The little guy crushed 3 mussels. Or so I thought, found one in the high chair this morning.
When you try our baked clams, tag us on Instagram @vindelgiudice! Leave a comment or a review and let us know what you think! I'd love to hear feedback from you! If you'd like to try some more seafood recipes, try our linguine with clams or shrimp fra diavolo!
Italian Stuffed Baked Clams
- 12 cherrystone clams
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoon lemon
- Purge your clams by giving them a 20-minute ice bath with salt. Remove from the water and rinse and scrub with your hands to remove any debris.
- If you didn't buy your clams already shucked, you'll have to shuck them now. Keep them on ice, slip your shucking knife in between the shell, and pop them open. If this is something you've never done before, I recommend buying them pre-shucked. Preheat the oven to 350°
- Chop the clams. Combine with the rest of the ingredients and mix until homogenous. Stuff the clams with about 1-2 tablespoon of stuffing. Drizzle ½ teaspoon of olive oil on each clam. Bake in oven for 15-18 minutes.
- Finish by broiling the clams for 2 minutes to brown the breadcrumbs. Serve with lemon wedges.