ITALIAN BAKED STUFFED COCKLES (for 10 to 12)
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