|Clams Casino, with bacon, butter and lots of goodies.|
Purchase the smallest clams you can find (often called "cherrystone"). Figure at least 3 - 4 clams per person. Wash them well, scrubbing off any muck. Soak them in bowl of cool water for at least 30 minutes - an hour is better, changing the water about half way through. This will give them a chance to disgorge any sand. Some folks add a little flour to the water, but I never do. Toss out any clams that are wide opened, they are dead.
Preheat your oven broiler or get your grill nice and hot. Put the clams on a baking sheet and let them cook about 5 minutes until they pop open. Watch them closely and when they are popping open, they are done. Remove from the heat and discard any clams that have not opened. Again, they are already dead and could be spoiled, don't take a chance.
Let them cool a few minutes and melt a stick of butter. Squeeze in a the juice of half a lemon, and add little minced garlic, if you like that. Not much garlic or it will become overpowering. Some folks add a little Old Bay seasoning, and that's good too, but, again, don't add much, maybe 1/2 tsp. or even less.
Cook 4 - 5 pieces of bacon, so that it's almost, but not quite cooked, and then cut the bacon into 1/2" or smaller pieces. When the clams are cool enough to handle, Carefully remove the top shell and gently loosen the clam from the bottom shell with a small knife or a spoon. Leave the meat in the bottom shell. Wipe down the baking sheet and put the prepared clams back onto it. Sprinkle some plain breadcrumbs over each clam -- just a little bit, so you can catch the butter. If you like, sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top of that, we love that but it's not traditional! Carefully pour a little butter onto each clam and then add a piece of bacon on top of that. Run them under the broiler or put them back on the grill until the bacon is fully cooked and they are lightly browned. Voila, Clams Casino my way. Feel free to make them your way, but this is how we do it!