10 large cherrystone clams, from sustainable sources
4 large cloves of garlic
½ a bunch of fresh thyme
4 jarred red peppers
8 rashers of higher-welfare smoked streaky bacon
1 knob of unsalted butter
200 g fresh white breadcrumbs
extra virgin olive oil
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By Pete Begg
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Preheat the grill to high.
Wash the clams under cold running water, brushing the shells and pulling off any seaweed stuck to them. Make sure they are all tightly closed.
Peel and very finely slice the garlic, Pick the thyme, and drain and finely slice the peppers.
Place a deep pan, big enough to hold all the clams, over a high heat. Add the clams and a splash of water and cover with a lid. Cook over a high heat, shaking now and then, until all the clams have opened, then tip onto a tray and leave to cool.
Snip each bacon rasher into three and place the pieces in a non-stick frying pan. Gently cook over a medium heat just until the bacon is just starting to crisp on both sides.
Lift the pieces of bacon out of the pan onto a plate and put the pan back on the heat. Add the butter, garlic and thyme and, when sizzling, add the breadcrumbs. Fry, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden and season with sea salt and black pepper. Take the crumbs off the heat and leave them to cool.
When the clams are cool enough to handle, remove from the shells and chop each into quarters. Tip them into a bowl, add a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of seasoning.
Rinse the shells and spread out on a large roasting tray.
Place a few pepper strips into each shell, followed by 1 tablespoon of breadcrumbs. Nestle a couple of clam quarters in each one and cover with more crumbs. Top with a piece of bacon and drizzle extra virgin olive oil.
Once all the clams are filled, pop the tray on a low shelf under the hot grill for 4 to 5 minutes, or until everything is warmed through, the bacon is sizzling and the crumbs are golden brown. Serve with the remaining lemon cut into wedges for squeezing over.