Okracoke Clams Casino
Category: Cocktails & Appetizers | Blog URL: http://ayankeeinasouthernkitchen.com/2008/06/29/clam-trio-clams-casino-clam-fritters-clam-chowder/
This recipe was entered in The Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook contest, a compilation of the world’s best food blogs which was published in Fall 2010.
Photo: Kim Morgan
This was our last meal together while on holiday. I think of this as a Northern meal when in fact we spent summers clamming in North Carolina. Of course, I saved the best meal for last. I think clams might be my favorite food if I had to choose; though I hope I never have to choose a favorite food since there really are so many.
I enlisted the help of my mom and dad to prepare the meal. My dad did the shucking of clams, 15 pounds in all. My mom made the chowder and helped with the Clams Casino while I prepared the Clam Fritters.
Clams bring back memories of summers vacationing at Ocracoke Island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We would rent a home on the bay and arrive armed with our trusty clam rakes, buckets and rafts for the girls to assist us in gathering our meals. The girls would each have a designated bucket, one for steamers, one for clams’ casino, and finally the bucket to hold the large chowder clams.
Their dad and I would rake chest deep in water as we fought the currents. When our rakes hit a clam bed we would call out to the girls to raft over to our spot. They would each grab clams depending on their size and call out “casino, steamers, or chowder” in excitement. Then the clams would drop into the bucket tied to the raft and they would paddle & play in the bay while waiting for the next group to be harvested.
We clammed as much as 2-3 hours a day for our meals. I would prepare the feast in the kitchen, while they rested and napped. When they awoke they would rush to the kitchen to see what “Mom’s Clam Bar” had cooking. They even made a sign that sat on the counter all week while vacationing. It was a fun ritual and the meal was most appreciated and enjoyed. Of course clams fresh from the waters can’t be beat. Nor can the memories that go with an experience like this either.
So once again we opened up Mom’s Clam bar and began our evening with Clams Casino. Our version of Casino consisted of lightly sautéed red sweet peppers and onion in bacon fat reserved from partially cooking bacon for topping the clams. Once the onion & sweet peppers were done, we added fresh bread crumbs to the mixture. In addition, I added a little butter when no one was looking.
The clams were then covered generously with the mixture. Finally I added a piece of bacon before being put into the oven to broil till the bacon was crisp and the clams were hot. The broiling only took 2-3 minutes. Normally you would shuck your clams for casino, but we cheated and steamed them till they just opened. They were still fantastic and this worked out rather well.
Our next course was the Clam Fritters. My knees go wobbly just thinking about how good these were. I did change the recipe some by adding more cornmeal and flour to make the right consistency.
The recipe made about 12-16 more fritters than it predicted. I also was short an egg, this worked out just fine. The only thing I would change when making these again, is that I would make sure that my stomach was empty -so I could eat more. If you don’t like clams and frankly I couldn’t begin to understand if that were the case, I imagine you could use fish, shrimp or crab in making these.
We served these with a simple Cocktail Sauce of ketchup and horseradish along with a Tarter Sauce of homemade mayonnaise and chopped pickles.
The last course was Clam Chowder made with potatoes, celery, onions, clam broth, cream, and chopped clams. We waited an hour or so following the first two courses before enjoying a warm bowl while sitting outside watching the sun go down. It was the perfect finish to our last evening together.
With lots of tear we all departed the next day, making our way to Alaska, Arizona and Charleston. We had a wonderful trip with wonderful memories of past and new memories to share with family, I miss them all already.