Crispy Clam Belly Oreganato

Photo by Andrew Cebulka

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Serves 6

    For the aioli:
  • Juice of 1 grilled lemon (see instructions)
  • ½ cup Duke’s mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • Salt and black pepper
  • For the clams:
  • 3 tablespoons hot sauce (Toscano prefers Crystal or Texas Pete)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 pint shucked steamer clams about 2½ pounds
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon dried wild Sicilian oregano
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  1. Make the aioli: Place a halved fresh lemon on a hot dry sauté pan or grill pan until charred or heavily caramelized, almost burnt. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, zest, juice of grilled lemon, dijon, and garlic. Mix ingredients evenly and season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  2. Make the clams: In a medium bowl, combine hot sauce, egg, buttermilk, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Stir in clams. On a large, flat dish, such as a dinner plate, sift together flour, salt, black pepper, and oregano. Add clams and toss to coat well. Shake off excess flour.
  3. In a deep skillet, heat oil to 350 degrees. Add about a quarter of the clams and cook, stirring, so that they brown evenly, about 2 minutes. As the clams brown and become crisp, use a slotted spoon to scoop them onto paper towels. Add another batch of clams. Continue cooking until all the clams are crisp and browned. Serve clams on a platter with a sprinkle of oregano and bowl of charred lemon aioli.
  • Recipe by Michael Toscano of Le Farfalle in Charleston, South Carolina

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