Next Time You Make a Steak, Pair It With Some Italian Stuffed Clams
NYC restaurateur Steve Haxhiaj shares the recipe for his addictive baked clams oreganata
As a general rule of thumb, the No. 1 thing to order from the menu of a steakhouse is, well, the steak.
However, be it double-thick bacon, creamed spinach with truffle butter or French onion soup made from veal stock, standout steakhouse side dishes are also must-orders at many meaty eateries nationwide.
That’s the case at Tuscany Steakhouse just south of Central Park in Manhattan, where owner Steve Haxhiaj, in addition to cooking up plenty of USDA Prime dry-aged porterhouses, bone-in ribeyes and filet mignons, goes through orders of chef Jaime Chabla’s Italian-inspired take on stuffed clams by the dozen.
With Little Neck clams brought in fresh from the Bronx serving as the stars of the show, Tuscany Steakhouse’s recipe for baked clams oreganata calls for oregano, garlic, paprika, olive oil, white wine and butter. Light and a little sweet with slight hints of spice, the medium-sized baked clams are stuffed with breadcrumbs — but that’s not all.
“Baked clams are a very common dish as an appetizer, but I have a little twist to it that makes it slightly different from other places,” Haxhiaj, who previously owned an Italian restaurant on the Upper East Side and also worked as the GM at Wolfgang’s Steakhouse, tells InsideHook. “My twist is Parmesan cheese. Other people don’t add that. With just breadcrumbs and white wine, it just tastes a little bit flat to me. It doesn’t have that really nice crunch and flavor. You’ve got to have fresh seafood and, once you add that little bit of Parmesan with just a few breadcrumbs. That, to me, is baked clams to perfection.”
With some patrons putting down as many as two dozen clams in a single sitting before ordering their meaty main course, the clams have become a favorite of some of Haxhiaj’s repeat customers, including ex-heavyweight boxing champ Wladimir Klitschko. “He was like, ‘Wow, this is amazing,’” Haxhiaj says. “Oh my God, he could eat a lot of them. Whoever has this dish always orders it again whenever they are back. I feel very comfortable with this on the menu, because you don’t have to worry someone might not like it. It’s a fresh dish and everybody loves it.”
Will you? The recipe from Haxhiaj and Chabla is below.
The Tuscany Steakhouse’s Baked Clams Oreganata
- One dozen Little Neck clams
- 12 oz breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1 tablespoon of white whine
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese
- ½ tablespoon of salt
- ½ tablespoon white pepper
- 1 tablespoon of paprika
- 1 piece of anchovy
- 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic
- 2 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons of clam juice
- 1 tablespoon of oregano
Instructions for the stuffing
- Take an oven-safe pan and add olive oil, garlic, anchovies, breadcrumbs, paprika, salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese, white wine, oregano and lemon juice. Mix all the ingredients on low heat.
- After all the ingredients are mixed, throw some parsley on the pan.
- Once parsley is added and ingredients are mixed, put the pan into the oven at 275 degrees for 5-6 minutes until the breadcrumbs are nice and golden.
- Take the pan out of the oven and allow the stuffing to cool down.
Instructions for finishing the baked clams
- Clean and wash the clams. Open the clams and fill them with the stuffing.
- Add some butter, white wine, lemon juice and clam juice onto the stuffing.
- Place in a salamander grill for two minutes or broil until the clams give a nice golden color.
- Put the clams into the oven for 2-3 minutes to finish.
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