Baked clams with lemon and parsley

Serves 4
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Garlic, parsley and clams are a classic combination and this dish makes a great sharing starter or part of a selection of starters. Ideally you want to find large clams for this but not the massive ones, like cherrystones or quahogs,as they are really for eating raw and can be a bit tough. You could even use very large cockles or razor clams or a mixture of both.

2kg large clams, scrubbed
4 large shallots, peeled, halved and finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
100g butter
100g fresh white breadcrumbs
Grated zest of one lemon
3-4tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the clams in a large saucepan with a cup full of water, cover with a lid and cook on a high heat, stirring them every so often, until they are all just open. Depending on the thickness of the shell this could take anything from 3-6 minutes; drain in a colander.

Pre-heat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7.

Meanwhile gently cook the shallots and garlic in the butter for a couple of minutes, stirring every so often. Put the shallot and garlic mixture in a food processor with the breadcrumbs, lemon zest and parsley and season. Blend briefly so that all of the ingredients are well but loosely mixed.

Remove one half of the clam shell from each clam and lay the clams on a flat tray. Spoon the breadcrumb mixture into each clam shell then cook in the oven for about 10-12 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden. Serve immediately.