Straight out of South Philly, the Italian/American section of the city, I remember eating things like eggplant covered in mozzarella, baked pasta and clams oreganata. Delicious smells always seemed to permeate the air as my mom cooked away in our tiny row-home kitchen.
Trying to recreate these scents in my own house I recently made clams oreganata for a group of friends. A classic southern Italian seafood dish, clams oreganata is the perfect light starter to a heavy Italian meal. Little neck clams are stuffed with a mixture of oregano, bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese and broiled until golden brown. Serve them with a squeeze of lemon and a glass of white wine.
25 little neck clams with reserved juice
1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1.5 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
4 heaping tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons of olive oil plus more to drizzle over clams
Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. Wash and scrubbed the clams and place in a single layer on a sheet pan. Place in the oven for only 2-3 minute, just enough to loosen the clams so they will easily open.
Remove clams from oven and with a butter knife, pry open the clams over a bowl to catch all the juice that comes out. Once open, loosen the clam in its shell by sliding the knife under it.
Preheat the broiler and adjust the rack to the top shelf.In a medium bowl mix together the bread crumbs, oregano, parsley, garlic, grated cheese, reserved strained clam juice, olive oil, and black pepper.
Pack each clam with the bread crumb mixture. Place the clams back on the sheet tray and add about 1/2 cup of water to the tray. This will also help the clams stay moist. Put the tray under the broiler for 5 to 6 minutes or until the bread crumbs are brown and crispy.