Gratineed Clams with Spinach, Cheese and Crispy Lamb

clams stuffed 1 tastefood~ Gratinéed Clams with Spinach, Cheese and Crispy Lamb ~

It’s the final challenge of the Lambs + Clams Contest. For the past 4 months I have been 1 of 8 national bloggers assigned to devise a recipe using lamb provided by Border Springs Farm or shellfish from Rappahannock River Oysters, culminating in the Charleston Wine and Food Festival in March. For this final contest we received a variety pack. Think surf and turf – Lambs and Clams style – namely 2 pounds of ground lamb and 25 plump middleneck clams. I admit, these are 2 ingredients I’ve never combined in one recipe, but, hey, there’s always a first time. And I love a good challenge.

Right away I considered a Mediterranean inspired stew, imagining poached clams in a robust tomato broth, with spicy lamb keftas standing in for chorizo. But: I have already created a recipe somewhat similar to that.  It did get me thinking, though, of lamb doing double duty for something else, like, say, bacon. Now, had I received a hunk of meat, I could have made my own lamb bacon, but I had ground lamb instead. So why not spice and cook the minced lamb to a point of crispness, where it could stand in for crumbled bacon? Hmmmm.

Which brings me to the weather – as all musings and ramblings do at some point. For the record, it’s cold,  grey and  wintery at the moment, which in my book is the perfect climate for warm, cheesy gratinéed food. A picture was beginning to form of a gratinéed clam on a halfshell crowned with crispy spiced minced lamb. And since it’s the New Year when healthy resolutions abound, I added a mound of spinach to the mix.

So if you give a cook a challenge, then you get…

clams stuffed tastefood

Gratinéed Clams with Spinach, Cheese and Crispy Lamb

For the spinach:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
6 ounces spinach leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese

For the lamb:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound ground lamb
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

16 middleneck or Manila clams

Finely grated Parmigiano cheese for sprinkling
Fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped, for garnish

Prepare the spinach:
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté until fragrant, 1 minute. Add spinach. Sauté until leaves wilt. Add salt. Transfer spinach to a cutting board. Cool slightly, then coarsely chop. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the cheese.

Prepare the lamb:
Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add lamb. Cook, stirring, until fat renders and lamb is brown. Drain and return lamb to the skillet. Add paprika, salt, pepper and cayenne. Sauté briefly to combine. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add clams. Reduce heat to medium and partially cover. Cook until the clams open, about 5 minutes. Drain clams. (Discard any unopened clams). When cool enough to handle, pry apart the shells; discard the tops. Carefully loosen the clam muscle from the shell, leaving the clam in the bottom half of each shell.

Heat oven broiler. Place a heaping teaspoon of spinach over a each clam. Top with a teaspoon of lamb. Liberally sprinkle with cheese. Place in a baking dish. Broil until the lamb is crispy brown and the clams are sizzling, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve warm.

If you like this recipe, please hop over to the Charleston Wine and Food Festival’s Facebook page where you will find all of the entries to the contest. To vote, you will have to ‘Like’ the page, and then click on the ‘vote’ tab in the navigation bar.

I would like to thank the folks at BBT’s Charleston Wine and Food Festival for sponsoring this contest and inviting me to participate. I also thank  Border Springs Farm and Rappahannock River Oysters for supplying gorgeous products for each challenge. Next month will be so uneventful without one of their packages arriving.

And have a look at the other contest participants’ blogs:
Peter Barrett @ A Cook Blog
Olga Berman @ Mango Tomato
David Dadekian @ Eat Drink RI
Gwen Pratesi @ Bunkycooks
Heather Scholten @ Farmgirl Gourmet
Cecilia Stoute @ One Vanilla Bean
Vivek Surti @ Vivek’s Epicurean Adventures

12 responses to “Gratineed Clams with Spinach, Cheese and Crispy Lamb

  1. Pingback: Surf & Turf Sliders - Farmgirl Gourmet

  2. heatherscholten

    Oh my. This looks delish!! I could definitely eat a few of these. It’s grey and cold here in the Pac NW too…and I have to say, Maui sounds perfect right now. ;) Great recipe and it’s been wonderful blogging along with you for the past 4 months. Sad to see this all end. Best of luck to you!!

  3. A beautiful and original way of preparing clams! A wonderful recipe.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  4. What a great take with “tricky” ingredients! You did an amazing job! off to vote now… ;-)

  5. eastofedencook

    What an elegant presentation! The addition of spinach adds a lovely cradle for the minced lamb, well done!

  6. An unusual and ‘new’ recipe I certainly intend to try! Actually contains most of my favourite ingredients!! Dying to taste this :) !

  7. What a creative and I’m sure delicious dish…great job.

  8. This looks wonderful Lynda! I really love everything about it and I think it would made a great hot app for watching football this weekend. I voted and posted the contest on my FB with a link to your entry. Good luck!!

  9. Simply beautiful! Definectly making this ;)