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Located on the outskirts of Las Vegas Clams Casino is the little known favorite get away places in the world for certain members of the bivalve family. It’s there that they gather with other members of the mollusk family to attend annual conventions, catch a show or two and maybe fritter away a few clams of their own at the slots or roulette or whatever other game of chance they like to call their fancy.

Little do the patrons of Clams Casino know that there’s another version of the term that involves us humans and the preparation of a pretty tasty appetizer.

I know a lot of you folks out there might have an aversion to eating clams. Some of them might be due to religious reasons and some of them might be for more ascetic reasons such as looking like a big ball of snot. I know I did. The first time I looked at a raw clam I was like, “No fuckin’ way in hell am I eating that thing” but as I got older and my tastes became more refined I got over my fear and decided to experiment. The first recipe I tried was at a local Italian restaurant in my home town of Brooklyn, New York. I can’t vouch for the ingredients they used but here’s a recipe I sorta developed along the way that suits me just fine.

Here’s what you need

A couple of tablespoons of olive oil
About two ounces of bacon, chopped into little pieces. Please, I beg of you, do not use that prepackaged crap known as Bacon Bits in order to save yourself some effort.
About one cup of red pepper –diced into cubes.
A tablespoon or two of chopped shallots.
Two cloves of garlic – finely minced. Again, try and avoid using the prepackaged stuff.
About a third of a cup of dry white wine – cheap is okay since most of it is cooked off.
A heaping helping of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
A dozen and a half of littleneck clams on the half shell.

Here’s what you do

First, preheat your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Next, dump the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and sauté it for three minutes or so and then remove. Plop in the red pepper, shallots and garlic and let them go for about five minutes. Next, pour in the wine and lower it to simmer until the wine is almost evaporated. Combine all of the ingredients along with two tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese. Give it a small taste and add salt and pepper as desired.

Once the oven hits the five hundred mark put the clams on a large baking sheet. Spoon the mixture of bacon and other assorted goodies over each clam evenly and top them off with a generous helping of the grated cheese. Stick them in the oven for about ten minutes until they’re browned and good to go.

On a persnoal note

It’s funny, even though this recipe has served me well over the years and I’ve sampled other versions of Clams Casino in restaurants all across the country they still can’t match the taste of the very first time I tried them in that small Italian place in Brooklyn. I guess that's true of many things in life like a first love or pet or car or something else you hold near and dear.

I'm left to wonder why that is.

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