serves: 6 servings
I always add diced fresh tomato to this dish, because I think it contributes a little freshness. Now is the time to try to find the Greek or Sicilian oregano dried right on the branch-it makes a difference. Many Greek and Italian groceries will have it. You can buy powdered hot red pepper, but I like to chop up the flakes myself.
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced
36 littleneck clams
½ cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
½ teaspoon crushed hot red pepper, chopped fine
2 cups bread crumbs
¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
¼ cup tomatoes, cubed, peeled and seeded
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 lemon, cut into thin slices
Let the oil and garlic steep in a small bowl 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Shuck the clams reserving the clam juice. Strain the juice through cheesecloth or a very fine sieve into a 13 x 11-inch baking dish. Add the white wine, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the parsley, the butter and half of the crushed red pepper.
In a deep bowl, toss the breadcrumbs, grated cheese, tomatoes, 3 tablespoons of the garlic-infused oil, the remaining chopped parsley, the oregano, and the remaining crushed red pepper until thoroughly blended.
Top each clam with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the bread-crumb topping packing it down tight. Set the clams in the prepared baking pan and drizzle the remaining infused oil over them. Bake until the pan juices are bubbling and the breadcrumbs are golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the clams to a warm platter or divide among serving plates.
To keep the bread-crumb topping crunchy, spoon the sauce from the baking dish onto the plates not over the clams. Serve immediately, garnished with the lemon slices.