¼ cup water

4 dozen cockles (1-1/4 pound, preferably New Zealand), rinsed well

¾ cup coarse fresh bread crumbs from a crusty Italian loaf

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling

2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano

1 large garlic clove, minced

¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/8 teaspoon dried oregano

lemon wedges to accompany


1.  Preheat oven to 450* with rack in the middle.

2.  Bring water to a boil with cockles in a wide 5-quart heavy pot, covered, then boil, covered, shaking pot occasionally, until cockles just open wide, 3 to 4 minutes.  (Discard any that remain unopened after 4 minutes.)  Transfer to a bowl with  a slotted spoon, reserving  cooking liquid, and cool completely.

3.  Discard top halves of shells and put bottom halves (with cockle attached) on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle with some of the reserved cooking liquid.

4.  Stir together remaining ingredients and a pinch of salt in a bowl, then top each cockle with about ¾ teaspoon of the mixture.

5.  Bake until topping is golden and crisp, about 5 minutes.  Drizzle with oil.

NOTE:  Bread crumb topping, without parsley, can be made 3 days ahead and chilled, covered.  Stir in parsley before using.  Cockles can be assembled but not baked, 4 hours ahead and chilled.

from Gourmet Holiday Special Edition, December, 2012

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