Clam casino is an appetizer comprising of clams, bacon and breadcrumbs. The highlighting feature associated with the dish is the serving of prepared clams on the ‘halfshell’. It is an important part of meal in Unites States and variations are popular worldwide.
Legends have it that this dish originated in Little Casino in 1917. A lady named Mrs. Paran Stevens in Narragansett, Rhode Island, asked Julius Keller, the maître d'hôtel to cook clams in a unique way as she wanted to serve something new to her guests. Since then, the dish is attributed to these two ladies who named the dish after the casino. The popularity of this clam dish spread across the United States and it became an indispensable part of each and every American restaurant. In few variations, like in New Orleans, Oysters are incorporated in place of clams.
In the 20th century, ‘shellfish fad’ used to prevail in United States and clam casino is one dish of the genre that was found in menu of almost all American restaurants.
Ingredients and Preparation
Tthe clams used in Clam Casino are littlenecks and cherrystones. Flavoring ingredients include pepper, garlic, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. Shallots, butter, white wine and bacon are common ingredients as well. To incorporate extra flavor, often Tabasco sauce is added and the dish is garnished with fresh chopped parsley.
Bacon, either smoked or unsmoked is the mainstay of this dish. Chopped bacon is cooked with shallots and other ingredients including spices and sauces. The mixture is kept aside until washed clams are baked. It is recommended to discard the clams that do not open while baking. The meat is taken out from the clam shells and cooked in the pan with sauces. The bacon mixture is then combined with cooked clam meat and clam shells are filled with the final mixture.
Filled clam shells can either be baked or grilled as per the choice. Breadcrumbs may be added to the meat mixture or sprinkled over the topping for crispy texture.
This Clam Casino is a well-liked appetizer in American and Italian cuisines. It is a classic dish served commonly in Italian food festivals held in America. It is also found in many holiday food menus of United States.
Clams are essentially the nutritional freshwater mussels that are included in heart healthy diet owing to its high omega-3 fatty acid contents and low-fat contents.They are an excellent source of healthy nutrients especially phosphorous that helps in strengthening of bones and teeth. This ingredient is also rich in iron, Vitamin A and potassiumand helps in maintaining a healthy level of cholesterol.
Garlic and shallots are also high in Vitamin C, selenium and phosphorus. Low sodium content of garlic is an additional advantage to the dish. Other ingredients like spices and sauces are also low-calorie and nutritious except butter, but if used in limited quantity it may also prove beneficial.
In Little Italy, Manhattan, clam casino is a quite popular dish and tops every ‘trattoria menu’ (Italian food menu).