Have you ever noticed how many ingredients go with clams? This low fat, high protein seafood also has many beneficial minerals. They are also one of the most sustainable seafood resources.
I thought I would provide an easy wood-fired cooking method that can be done on your charcoal grill (you certainly can modify a few setup items and do this on the gas grill as well using wood) and produce the most flavorful clams casino out there.
Go find some similarly sized clams, fire up the grill, and get ready for this recipe and technique to become your favorite.
Hot Coal Grilling
Our recipe is quite simple: gather together
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 oz. sliced pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
- 1 cup finely diced red bell pepper
- 1/3 cup chopped shallots
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced (you can use pre-minced garlic)
- ¼ teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
- salt & fresh ground pepper
- 18 medium clams, shucked, bottom shells reserved
Before starting on the casino filling, it’s important that you get the grill ready. First, you’ll want to get a chimney starter of charcoal going. I’m using SmokinLicious® charwood in place of traditional charcoal as this is a partially charred product that will also provide for some hardwood flavor infusion. Once lit, the chimney starter needs to burn down the charwood to hot coals — no flame should be visible when you dump this into the grill.
For my charcoal grill, I’ve set a mesh screen at the base of my kettle grill to allow me to retain as many hot coals as possible. The screen helps to prevent small coals from falling through the charcoal area. I’ve also covered brick with heavy-duty foil to act as a heat conductor and radiator. This will help to keep a constant temperature during the actual cooking process. The brick will also separate the cooking area from the fuel area. A bit of unlit charwood is also added to the charcoal half of the grill so these bits can ignite from the hot coals and sustain the heat level more evenly.
With the charwood burning in the chimney starter, I can now start on the casino filling. After adding a tablespoon of oil and cooking the pancetta or bacon in a skillet, I’ve put that aside on a paper towel lined dish and added the diced red pepper to the fat drippings in my pan. After cooking a few minutes, I had the shallots, garlic, and parsley to the same skillet and sauté until the shallots are tender and translucent, which is about 5 minutes. Add the white wine and simmer until it is almost evaporated. Remove the skillet from the heat and cool completely.
Assembling the Casinos
While the casino mixture is cooling, I prepare my clams. Here you have a couple of options depending on your skill level and time management. You can shuck the clams as normal and reserve the bottom shell with the clam, or you can steam the clams until just open, separate the top from the bottom shell, reserving the bottom shell. I loosen the clam from the shell so it’s easier to consume with the casino mixture. After the clams are readied, I take the cooled casino mixture and add the previously cooked pancetta or bacon, 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan, and fresh pepper mixing well. I then take a tablespoon of the mixture and mound it over the clam in the shell. The finished clams are placed in a grill-proof pan.
Wood Firing Brings Depth of Flavor
With all my top neck clams stuffed with casino filling, I sprinkle the remaining Parmesan and the 2 tablespoons of panko bread crumbs over each clam. I am now ready to place the tray on the grill. Since I’m using a two-zone cooking method, I can safely put the lid on the grill without concern for charring these clams too far. With a steady temperature of about 300°F, these will take between 15–20 minutes. You can rotate the tray if you feel the heat level in your grill is not even or steady. For those that like a crunchy outside to the clam feel free to place these under the broiler for a few minutes. The clams pick up the wood flavor in a very balanced way, giving just hints of charry goodness with each bit. Super easy, super flavorful, and super fun to make. Take your clams to the wood fire for your next event.
The Culinary Crew wants you to know…
… about the great results had from indirect cooking or the two-zone grilling technique, as referenced in this recipe blog. When it comes to this particular recipe, you will find that wood fired clams done on a charcoal grill with indirect heat and a simple brick heat conductor will add a distinctive smoky flavor twist to your clams casino. This appetizer promises to be a fan favorite for any seasonal or football party!