This clams casino is layered with flavors, but easy to prepare. [Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Clams casino should be a great dish—what could be bad about clams, bacon, butter, and bread crumbs? But all too often, it’s executed all wrong. Not this time. Meet the make-ahead, no-shuck, easy-as-pie clams casino recipe that just happens to taste better than most others out there.

Why It Works

  • Toasting panko bread crumbs in rendered bacon fat makes a crispy topping that’s also a vehicle for flavor.
  • Cooking the clams first allows us to collect all their juices, then reduce them down with shallots, garlic, more bacon, and white wine. The eventual result: bacon-clam compound butter.
  • Pre-cooking the clams, then packing them back into their shells with the compound butter, means that this recipe, unlike most others, can be made well ahead of time and finished in the oven right before serving.
  • Yield:Makes 2 dozen clams, serving 6 to 8
  • Active time:1 hour
  • Total time:1 hour (plus 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours purging time)
  • Rated:4.4
  • Ingredients

    • For the Bacon Bread Crumbs:
    • 6 ounces bacon, finely diced
    • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • For the Clams:
    • 2 ounces bacon, finely diced
    • 3 large shallots, minced (about 1 cup)
    • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
    • Pinch red pepper flakes
    • 1/4 cup dry white wine
    • 24 littleneck clams, purged and scrubbed (see note)
    • 1/2 cup minced flat-leaf parsley, divided
    • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • Lemon wedges, for serving


    1. 1.

      For the Bacon Bread Crumbs: In a large skillet, cook 6 ounces diced bacon over medium-high heat, stirring, until fat has rendered and bacon is browned and crisp, about 7 minutes. Lower heat if skillet gets too hot and begins to smoke.

    2. 2.

      Stir in bread crumbs to evenly coat in bacon fat and cook, stirring and tossing, until bread crumbs are lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool. Season very lightly with salt and pepper.

    3. 3.

      For the Clams: In a large sauté pan, cook 2 ounces diced bacon over medium-high heat until fat has rendered and bacon is lightly browned and crisp, about 3 minutes. Stir in shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until shallots have softened, about 4 minutes.

    4. 4.

      Add white wine and clams, cover, and cook, checking occasionally, until the clams begin to open. Using tongs, transfer opened clams to a large bowl to cool, continuing to cover sauté pan and checking frequently for newly opened clams. Continue until last clams have opened. (Some may open only a crack; this is fine, just pry the shell fully open.)

    5. 5.

      Uncover sauté pan and cook, stirring, until wine and clam liquid have evaporated and the shallot-bacon mixture has become jammy. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

    6. 6.

      In a medium bowl, stir shallot-bacon mixture and 1/4 cup parsley into softened butter until thoroughly incorporated. Season lightly with salt and pepper. (Clams can be salty, so be careful not to over-season.)

    7. 7.

      Working one at a time, pry off top shell of each clam and discard, making sure no shell fragments from hinge fall into clam. Free each clam from bottom shell, then set back in bottom shell and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.

    8. 8.

      Using a butter knife, pack clam butter all around and over each clam, sealing each into the bottom shell. Sprinkle a small amount of bacon bread crumbs on top of each clam, pressing lightly to adhere. At this point, you can cover the baking sheet with plastic and refrigerate clams for up to 1 day before cooking. (You will have clam butter left over; keep it refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 1 week. It’s delicious tossed with spaghetti for an easy weeknight meal.)

    9. 9.

      When ready to serve, place clams in a 450°F oven and cook until butter is melted and clams are fully heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir remaining 1/4 cup parsley into bread crumbs, then sprinkle a generous amount on top of each clam. Return to oven for 1 minute to warm bread crumbs, then serve right away with lemon wedges.

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