Prepare the clams by giving them a salt bath in cold water and ice.
If alive, they will open and spit out any sand from the shells into the water. Rinse and repeat until the water is clear. If not using immediately, put them in a zip bag in the fridge overnight. I like to do it this way as they relax in the overnight cold and are more tender.
Place the clams on a sheet tray and bake in a 350-degree oven until they have all opened. If you have any that do not open, throw them away. Remove clams from the oven, drain liquid from the pan and save. You can add this liquid to the stuffing instead of the juice from the canned clams. Keep the juice from the cans, as you will need more than what you’ll get from the roasting pan.
Remove the tops of the clams from the base and discard them. (We keep these empty tops for the people that really don’t like the clam and we just fill them with the stuffing). Release the clam from the muscle in the shell with a knife so the clam is free from the shell (easier to eat) – check for any sand left in clamshell base and place the clam back in the shell
Set aside while prepping the stuffing.
Begin frying 4 strips of chopped bacon in a pan
Drain canned clams (1 can each minced and chopped) and reserve liquid (usually 2 cups) – set aside liquid and clam meat
Finely chop or mince 4 garlic cloves (microwave for 17 seconds to loosen the skins. The skins will fall off)
Dice large red and green peppers (use 1 red and ½ green)
Finely chop 1 medium shallot
Add peppers garlic and shallot (once the bacon is halfway cooked) and stir occasionally
Add 3/4 cup of white wine (a nice Chardonnay works well here) to the pepper and bacon mixture
Add 1 teaspoon of dried oregano to pepper and bacon mix
Add both cans of clam meat to bacon and peppers and incorporate
Pour one cup of the reserved canned clam juice into the pan
Add red pepper flakes to taste, just because you’re spicy
Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the bacon and pepper mix
Cook until sauce reduces by 1/2
Chop three raw slices of bacon into small pieces
Add bacon to a new pan
Add 1 cup of panko bread crumbs to the bacon and combine
Toast the panko in the bacon fat Until golden brown
Add pepper and bacon mixture to the toasted panko mixture and combine
Add remaining drained juice from canned clams until stuffing consistency
Evenly distribute the stuffing over the clams, sprinkle with paprika and grate fresh parmesan cheese on top
Place in a preheated 450-degree oven and cook until the topping is toasted and the cheese is bubbling
Top with chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges and an ice-cold (from the freezer) Sparkling Rose Prosecco.