The season of seafood is upon us....and by seafood I mean fried fish, and by fried fish I mean church fish fries, and by church fish fries I mean lent.....which is basically the season of fish (can I get an Amen for Friday night fish fries??!). Surprisingly, the Mr. and I don't eat a lot of meat on the regular so you'd think the "no-meat-on-Friday's" thing would be easy, but go figure it's the one time that we'll crave a big cheesy burger or a juicy steak. To deter the meat cravings and avoid fried-fish overkill (and the heart attack that probably comes along with it) we're always thinking of new meatless meals to incorporate, not only year-round, but especially during lent. These peppy stuffed clams aren't new by any means. In fact, I can picture the recipe on the page of one of my Grandmother's old cookbooks. It's well loved, as is evidenced by the worn and tattered sheet on which the recipe lives (in typewritten print, no less). I distinctly remember my Grandmother making these for Friday dinner (which my Grandparents always ate at lunch), baking the filling in actual shells. As much as I liked the idea of eating out of a shell (because I thought I was the Little Mermaid or something), clams were not my jam. It wasn't until recently (Christmas time back home, to be exact), that I gave these another try, immediately mentally scolding myself for skipping out on these for so many years. I mean, hello....they're covered in butter and cheese and cracker crumbs, what I was thinking?! Lent or no lent, don't be like me. Take the 30 minutes and make these clams. Do it. Now. You're welcome.
1/2 cup chopped peppers
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped celery
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup crushed ritz crackers
1 8-ounce can of minced or chopped clams + their juice
A dash of tabasco sauce
A dash of worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese + extra for the top
In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the onions, peppers, and celery and sauté until the veggies are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the flour, then 1/4 cup of the cracker crumbs. Lastly, stir in the clams, the clam juice, the tobacco, worcestershire sauce, and the parmesan cheese. Spread the mixture into the bottom of a greased small casserole pan (or a pie pan).
Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and then stir in the other 1/4 cup of cracker crumbs. Sprinkle on top of the clam mixture and sprinkle with additional cheese (if desired).
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until it is bubbling and the top is lightly browned.
Serve immediately. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, and simply reheat for a few minutes (in the microwave or oven) before serving the leftovers.
This recipe is supposed to serve 4 (small portions). However, depending on how hungry your are, it may only be enough for 2.
I like to serve this with green beans or a salad.