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CLAMS OREGANATO
This is Mario Batale's recipe as presented on Food TV many times. When preparing this dish, just be sure everything is as fresh as can be!
Serves 4

24 cherrystone or littleneck clams, scrubbed
3 cups kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, cut into 1/8-inch dice
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/8-inch dice
1 cup fresh bread crumbs, crusts removed and set aside for another use
Salt and pepper
1 bunch fresh oregano, chopped

Carefully open the clams and loosen from bottom shell, carefully draining each of the clams' liquid into a small mixing bowl. Pour kosher salt onto a cookie sheet so that it is at least a half-inch deep, and arrange the clams in their half-shells around the cookie sheet.

In a 10 to 12-inch saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat until smoking and add the onion, garlic, and peppers. Cook 6 to 7 minutes, until softened and light golden brown, then add the bread crumbs and continue cooking another 3 minutes, until they are light golden brown. Remove the mixture from heat, season with salt and pepper, and cool. Stir in the chopped oregano and the reserved clam liquid and pack about 2 teaspoons of the crumb mixture loosely into each clamshell.

Preheat the broiler. Place clams under heat and heat through, without really cooking the clam, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, until the crumb mixture has turned deep golden brown. Remove from heat, drizzle with a drop of olive oil, and serve.

Copyright 2001 Carol Stevens, Shaboom's Kitchen, All Rights Reserved