Since we all love and live in a shore state, I got inundated with all kinds of clam recipes when I wrote my cookbook. Gayle Hughes from Egg Harbor sent us this recipe using Jersey clams.

I like Clams Casino year round. I think that it’s a great way to start a meal and it’s a perfect mid-afternoon snack. Gayle uses Jersey Fresh vegetables to make this a classic New Jersey appetizer.

Note: Gayle’s recipe calls for one small clove of garlic but I like a lot more so go for it if you do too! Thanks, Gayle, for sending it in. Your recipe calls for 50 clams. That’s great but what are my guests going to eat?

You'll need:

50 Littleneck or Cherrystone Clams, caught off the Jersey Coast
1 stick butter
1 large New Jersey fresh onion, finely minced
1 large New Jersey fresh green pepper, finely minced
1 large New Jersey fresh red pepper, finely minced
1 stalk New Jersey fresh celery, finely minced
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1⁄2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1⁄2 pound bacon, cooked and cut into 50 small squares
8 oz. block of Monterey Jack cheese (or hotter Pepper Jack if you like) cut into 50 small squares
1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
dash hot sauce
juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon paprika

How to put it together:

Steam open clams. Remove clam meat and use food chopper to mince. Reserve 1/2 of the shell from each clam, wash out and use for holding filling mixture.

In frying pan melt butter. Sauté onion, green & red pepper, celery and garlic until tender and then add minced clams. Combine and then let mixture cool slightly.

In mixing bowl stir together clam/vegetable sauté with Italian seasonings, parm cheese and hot sauce. Add bread crumbs slowly to “tighten" mixture. Place cleaned clam shells onto baking sheet and fill each shell heaping with clam mixture.

Take bacon square and place on top of mixture for each clam. Add Monterey Jack cheese square to each clam top. Squeeze lemon juice over all clams. Sprinkle paprika lightly (for added color) onto top of each clam. Place under hot broiler until cheese melts and bubbles brown. Let cool slightly. ENJOY!!!

Makes 50 Jersey Clams Casino.

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