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The Clam Variety You Need For The Best Clams Casino

Close-up of clams casino
Close-up of clams casino - Sandi Cullifer/Shutterstock

Clams casino just one of many easy seafood recipes that burst with flavor. It is especially popular in the New England region of the United States, and in its simplest form, it's made with four ingredients: clams, bacon, bread crumbs, and crushed red pepper flakes (though other elements are often added to impart additional flavor). The dish is normally served as an appetizer, though you can certainly make a meal out of it because of its hearty ingredients. If you're looking to make clams casino the traditional way, you'll want to use littleneck clams.

Littleneck clams can be found in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, but for clams casino, use the Atlantic variety, known as Mercenaria mercenaria. If you're unsure of whether you're buying the right kind, you can also ask an employee at your local fish market for assistance. These clams are small and tender, so they cook quickly, making this an easy recipe to whip up in right around 30 minutes.

Read more: 12 Underrated Types Of Fish You Should Try At Least Once

Littleneck Clams Are Best For Clams Casino

Littleneck clams in white bowl
Littleneck clams in white bowl - Iv-olga/Shutterstock

Clams are a bit temperamental because their texture can quickly become chewy if they're overcooked. Since littlenecks are so small, they're done in minutes. Littlenecks are also less expensive than other pricey seafoods like scallops or crabs, so they're a more cost-effective way to offer a homemade seafood dish.

Littlenecks are found on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, which is why their shells should always be scrubbed clean before cooking; they're often coated with sand or barnacles. Their small size is what prevents them from being too chewy and sets them apart from other Mercenaria mercenaria species like Quahogs or topnecks. Littlenecks' size means they're commonly eaten on their own with a little butter or in a recipe like clams casino.

The use of littlenecks in clams casino likely dates back to its inception. While the actual origins of the recipe can't be stated as fact, reports suggest the dish might have originated in Narragansett, Rhode Island after a woman requested a new clam dish for a lunch gathering she was hosting at a resort in the town. The chef prepared the new dish -- which he called clams casino -- with littlenecks, and it's possibly because that's what the restaurant had on hand due to the clams' popularity in the region.

Clams Casino Is An Easy Dish To Make

Clams casino on aluminum foil
Clams casino on aluminum foil - Robert F. Leahy/Shutterstock

Homemade clams casino is actually very easy to make. While the clams are having their initial cook, you prepare the seasoned breadcrumb topping, then pull the cooked littlenecks free of the shell, and place them back in a half-shell with the topping to broil. But before you start cooking, be sure to buy good clams. Their shells should be closed tight (or they close up when you tap them): an open clam is a dead clam. It's also important to make sure your clams don't have a lot of sand inside them before you cook them. So you'll want to soak them in salt water for about thirty minutes to purge them of sand.

It's important to always cook the clams first before preparing them for broiling to ensure they're safe to eat. The clams will be open when done, and should have an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Broiling them for just a few minutes is not long enough to cook the clams thoroughly and is meant to only crisp the top mixture. While you can cook them using several methods, cooking them directly in a white wine broth imparts a ton of flavor even before the other ingredients are added (you can also save that broth to use over pasta for another meal).

In general, cooked shellfish remains good quality in the refrigerator for no more than two days, so if you plan to store some leftover clams casino, eat it within 48 hours.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.