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Let's Eat

Parmesan clams

(Karoline Boehm Goodnick for The Boston Globe)
May 19, 2010

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Serves 4

In Chile, where this popular dish is called machas a la parmigiana, you’ll find it made with Pacific razor clams. New England littlenecks make a fine substitute. Although Parmesan and shellfish seem an unlikely pair, the results are delectable. Steam the bivalves open, and then thicken the juices with a little cornstarch to maintain the briny sea flavors and balance the richness of the cheese. Here, the cheese is a combination of Asiago and Parmesan. The clams combine elements of the Mediterranean and the Pacific. Serve this appetizer before big bowls of pasta dinner or as part of a barbecue.

3 tablespoons white wine
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
18 littleneck clams
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
3/4 cup grated Asiago cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1. Turn on the broiler. Have on hand a 12-inch baking dish.

2. In a large pot, bring the wine, garlic, and olive oil to a boil. Add the clams and cover with the lid. Steam clams for 5 minutes or until they just begin to open.

3. Using a slotted spoon, remove clams from the liquid and set aside until cool enough to handle.

4. Stir the water and cornstarch until smooth. Whisk the cornstarch mixture and lemon juice into the clam cooking liquid and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until it thickens. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper.

5. Snap off and discard the top of each clam shell. Loosen the clam meat from the other shell, but do not remove it. Set the clams in the dish.

6. Add a spoonful of cooking liquid to each clam. In a bowl, mix the Asiago and Parmesan cheeses. Top the clams with grated cheese.

7. Broil the clams, checking them often, for 5 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley.

Karoline Boehm Goodnick