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Smoked Clams Casino are the perfect grilled appetizer to enjoy on a beautiful day. Buttery clams combined with bacon and breadcrumbs make this a casino where the house always wins! Grilled up on my pellet smoker with a cold near by this will be a crowd pleaser for sure.
Clams Casino first showed up on menus in the early 1900’s in the Northeastern United States. Legend has it they were first served at the little Casino in Narragansett Rhode Island. Created as a special request of a woman who was looking to impress her guests. The recipe traditionally includes clams, bell peppers, bacon and breadcrumbs but there are many variations. In New Orleans Oysters Casino is very popular due to the abundance of oysters in the Mississippi and nearby gulf.
There are many different varieties of clams but the ones most commonly consumed are found in the northeastern United States. Other varieties like Manila clams found on the west coast are small and sweet, mainly served in pasta dishes or steamed and served with clarified butter. You also have varieties like Atlantic and pacific razor clams as well as the very peculiar looking Geuduck clam.
The clams I grew up on all hail from the northeastern United States. Clams and other shellfish were a main source of sustenance for the native Americans of the Narragansett tribe. Their name for the mollusk was poquauhock which over time morphed into the word quahog by early English settlers. Clams are named and classified based on size, the smaller clams are sweeter and more tender while larger clams have a tougher texture often chopped up for soups and chowders.
Chowder clams are sometimes called Quahogs especially by northeastern natives.
When purchasing clams you may need to do some work before cooking. Oftentimes the outer shells will be muddy with some sand on the outside. Always ask your fishmonger if the clams have already been cleaned and purged. If not, it’s no big deal and you’ll just need to clean them yourself.
Simply give the clams a light scrub under cold water and rinse thoroughly. Next you’ll need to purge any sand out of the clams by soaking clams in cold water for about 2 hour. This will make sure you don’t have gritty clams when you eat them after cooking. I prefer to purge my clams in salted water so they still have that clean saltwater flavor.
I worked at a restaurant in Maryland right outside Baltimore that served tons of clams casino. It was definitely one of the most popular appetizers on the menu. We served smaller clams and topped them with a bacon garlic butter mixture then topped with provolone cheese before broiling in a hot oven. The bubbly hot cheese is held in the buttery bacon and clam mixture also keeping the clams hot. For this recipe I wanted to use a larger clam so I chopped the cooked clams and combined with the bacon and garlic butter. I also added pork king good Italian breadcrumbs made from crushed pork rinds to help the mixture hold together while cooking. you can use panko breadcrumbs if you don't want to use the pork rinds.
Instead of steaming the clams we're going to use the pellet grill to heat the clams and open them up. this will impart an extra smoky flavor to the clams casino that really makes this recipe special. once the clams open up be careful when removing them from the grill because there will be some leftover liquid in the shell that is scalding hot.
Once those beautiful Smoked Clams Casino are cooked and ready to eat you’ll want to just put them on a plate. One problem. They’re gonna slide everywhere and either fall off the plate or be a complete pain in the ass to eat. To fix this we’ve got 2 options. They make plates specially for clams casino and oyster Rockefeller that have impressions to hold the shells in place. Your other option is to simply mix a cup of kosher salt with about a tablespoon of water together. The salt will clump up and then you can spoon out dollops on the plate to set the clams in. It’s a really nice presentation and only takes an extra second to prepare. other than that a few lemon wedges and a couple of sprigs of parsley and you're set.