Machas a la Parmesana/Baked Razor Clams with Cheese
This recipe was created fifty years ago in the Chilean coastal city of Viña del Mar by an Italian immigrant and it is now considered a Chilean classic. The perfect entrée, Chileans serve the razor clams in their shell, lightly baked to perfection in a decadent creamy white wine sauce and covered in parmesan. Chile, with it's wonderfully long coast line, has an abundance of fresh, high quality seafood which is why it features so ubiquitously on the Chilean menu, both at restaurants and in homes. You cannot possibly go wrong with a recipe featuring fresh clams, white wine, garlic and parmesan and it is incredibly easy and quick to prepare. The recipe says it serves 4 but having tasted these delightful morsels, I know I would have no trouble wolfing down a dozen to myself.
Serves 4 people
24 razor clams
24 bits of butter
24 tsp of white wine
24 tsp of cream
24 small pieces of garlic
12 tsp of Parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper(optional)
1. Open the shells with a knife and wash the clam’s tongues under a cold water stream, remove the black side and sand. Wash the shells and save half of them.
2. Put the shells in a baking pan and put butter and a clam’s tongue in each shell.
3. Season with salt & pepper. Add white wine, cream and pieces of butter and garlic. Dust every shell with Parmesan cheese.
4. Put the oven to 180° and cook from 5 to 7 minutes until the cheese has melted and the clam’s tongues turn into an intense pink. Serve right away.
This recipe was provided to me by the Chilean Cuisine Cooking School after I attended a class with them in Valparaíso, Chile. We didn't make this particular dish in the class but I was eager to give it a whirl although in the end I made it with a few small variations.
The first step was the same but after removing the clams from their shells I soaked them in a dish with diced garlic, chives and white wine for about 20 minutes.
Being a traveler living out of a suitcase and cooking out of whatever airbnb kitchen I find myself contending with, I tend to take short cuts or skimp on ingredients a little so in this case I decided to forgo the cream and instead just used a generous lashing of butter. The tiny amount of cream required in the recipe would have left me with extra cream that would only go to waste and I loath food waste! I didn't have the same concern about the extra wine funnily enough....
I smeared a generous spoonful of butter on each shell and placed a clam on top then drizzled all the remaining wine and garlic mix evenly over each clam.
I sprinkled each with a very generous handful of parmesan because when it comes to parmesan excess is always best!
And as per the recipe, I popped them into a 180 degree oven to bake for 6 minutes, changing the oven setting to grill for the last minute in order to give the parmesan a golden finish. The recipe is not kidding when it says 'serve right away' and probably even more so when you've left out the cream because of course if you leave it too long the cheese will cool and start to firm up. Get these bad boys straight from the oven to your plate and into your mouth while the cheese is still perfectly gooey. Wash down with remaining bottle of wine. I mean you could cook these with cooking grade wine but personally I always prefer to cook with a wine that I can sip on as I go.
I ordered this dish as an entree at an excellent restaurant in Valparaíso so I could compare what I had made with a traditional creamy version (as pictured in the opening photo). The creamy version was certainly delicious and much softer and I would have said much better, only they didn't add any garlic which is a big negative for me. Always add garlic! But the softer texture was really nice and I think next time I'll skip the grill setting to keep the cheese as gooey as possible. This recipe is definitely a keeper! Great for summer and winter and easy to throw together for a dinner party, in fact they'd make a great hor d'oeuvre although they require an oyster fork. Give it a try and let me know how you like 'em!