This classic clam dish is fantastic as a passed hors d'oeuvre for a party. Use the freshest clams you can find; the shells should be tightly shut, and any that are open should shut when tapped on a work surface. Some people like to add chopped garlic and red pepper flakes; I like to let the flavor of oregano shine on its own, but feel free to modify to suit your taste.
*Note: If you are comfortable working with a clam or oyster knife, you can skip the first step and open the clams directly, discarding the top shells. Do this over a bowl so that you can save any juices and add them to the baking dish later.
- 2 Pounds littleneck or cherrystone clams
- 1/2 Cup clam juice
- 1 Cup panko
- 10 sprigs oregano
- 1/2 Cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Arrange the clams in a baking dish and place in the oven just until they start to open.
Meanwhile, remove the oregano leaves from the stems and chop coarsely. Combine with the panko and extra-virgin olive oil in a bowl and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Remove the clams from the oven and separate the top shell from the meat when cool enough to handle.* Discard the tops and place the bottom halves back in the baking dish.
Scatter the panko mixture over the clams and carefully add the clam juice to the bottom of the baking dish. Place back in the oven until the panko turns golden, about 7-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve when cool enough to handle.