Chef Jim’s Clams Oreganato Recipe

Composite Image_Clams Oreganato

The only thing better than the clean, bright flavors of this delicious seafood starter is how easy it is to prepare. It’s a great dish for the experienced seafood cook and the novice clam-shucker alike. A popular appetizer in Italy, Clams Oreganato takes its name from the addition of oregano to the light bread crumb topping. This version has a bit of a spicy kick thanks to the Fresno chile (or jalapeño), and pairs well with both sauvignon blanc and pinot noir.

Makes two-dozen clams on the half-shell.

2 dozen littleneck clams
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
2 T olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried hot chile, crushed
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 T fresh chopped oregano
1 small fresh Fresno chile or jalapeño, minced
2 T fresh parsley, minced
Zest from one lemon
2T chopped roasted red pepper
1T tomato paste
1 tsp capers, rinsed and chopped
2 anchovies, minced

For the crumb topping:

  1. Sauté garlic, crushed chile and dried oregano in the olive oil.
  2. When garlic is just cooked add all the other ingredients and stir together.
  3. Taste for spice. This is a spicy dish and should taste a bit hot.

For the clams:

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Rinse and scrub the clams with cold water.
  3. Shuck the clams over a bowl so as to catch all the clam juice.
  4. Release clams from bottom shell with a knife.
  5. Discard top shell of clams to create 24 clams on the half-shell.
  6. Place clams in a baking pan.
  7. Pour the juice from the clams into the crumb mixture and heat slightly.
  8. Top each clam with a heaping spoon of crumb mixture.
  9. Bake in a very hot 475 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.