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White Clam Pizza Recipe


Pepe's white clam pizza
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3.35 from 41 votes
Pepe's on Wooster St. in New Haven CT is one of the most famous pizza places in the world, and their most famous pie is the White Clam Pizza. Duplicating Pepe's pies is impossible, but you can come close at home with the right ingredients, and a little love. Here's the recipe for creating a delicious white clam pizza in your kitchen.

Serve with: with a cold lager beer, a wheat beer, or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.


Course:
Dinner
,
Lunch
,
Main Course
Cuisine:
American
,
Italian

Makes:

Servings: 8 slices (one 14" thin crust pizza)

Takes:

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Equipment

  • Pizza stone or 15" pizza pan

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces Roman style pizza crust
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 36 raw Littleneck clam meats
  • ½ cup freshly grated real Italian Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced fine
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
Notes:
About the clams. Pepe's uses whole, live fresh Littleneck clams from Rhode Island and shucks them on site. You can do this too, but it is a lot easier to get pre-shucked fresh or fresh frozen clam meats. Whole shucked clams cook at about the same rate as the crust, but if you can only find chopped clams, they'll do, they just be a little chewier. I'd advise against minced clams because they are so small and will get rubbery. Canned whole clams are cooked in the canning process and have an inferior flavor and they can be very chewy, but in a pinch, they work.
For this recipe I try to find fresh shucked clams first, fresh frozen second, and sometimes, I buy live clams and then I cheat. I put them in a pot with about 1/4" of water, cover the pot, turn the flame on high, and in about 3 minutes they pop open. I watch them carefully so they don't cook. I want them as close to raw as possible, but this step makes shucking them sooooo much easier. I let them cool for a few minutes, and pop them open easily with my fingers. If Frank Pepe knew I did this he would ban me from his establishment for life, but it works fine, and there is no Meathead blood in the pizza. If you're shucking raw clams, add 40 minutes to the prep time here. 
Quahogs, Cherrystones, and Littlenecks, are all Quahogs of different sizes, in descending order. You need Littlenecks to be authentic, but the bigger clams can be used. If you get large Quahogs, cut them in half so they cook properly. Topneck, Longneck, Wellfleet, or other small clams can be used. Geoduck are too large. Some species have a thin black stocking over their "foot" that must be peeled before you put them on the pizza. To learn more about your options, and how best to shuck live clams, read my article on the Science of Clams.
Salt. I know you want to add salt, but it is not necessary. The clams and cheese are salty enough.
Optional. If you want, a few flakes of red pepper are nice, and if you absolutely must, a few chunks of chopped tomato are good, but heretical.
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page

Method

  • Fire up. Preheat the grill or oven to at least 450°F. If you can get it hotter, do. If you are using a stone, put it into the cold oven and let it heat at least 30 minutes.
  • Shape the dough. You can use a frozen dough from the grocer, just not a precooked dough. But I strongly recommend you try making your own by using my simple Roman style no knead pizza crust recipe. It has the right amount of oil in it for the same kind of crispy crust you find at Pepe's.
  • Toss the flour on your work surface and spread it thin. Place the dough in the center and begin working it outward and roll it thin, less than 1/4". Move it to a peel if you are cooking on a pizza stone or to an oiled pan. Either works fine. Throw some cornmeal on the peel or pan to help the dough slide on and off, and for a bit of flavor.
  • Add the toppings. Pat the clams dry and place them on the dough, spreading them out evenly, and take them to within 1" of the edge. Then sprinkle on the garlic, cheese, oregano, and finally drizzle on the oil. The oil will pool but don't worry, it will spread out in the oven. I like to take a brush and paint a little oil on the edges of the dough.
  • Cook. Bake until the dough on top and the bottom is tan to golden. If you wish, push your luck and let it go until there is a slight blackening on the bottom, but beware, too much char can ruin your pie. Whatever you do, don't pull the pie until the clams are cooked through. Raw clams, although they are popular on the half-shell, are susceptible to contamination and a common source of food-borne illness. You will notice what looks to be a lot of oil on the surface while it is cooking, but don't worry, it will be absorbed. You will also notice a strong garlic smell. It will keep away the vampires.
    bottom of Pepe's pizza crust
  • Serve. Remove, slice, and serve hot.

Nutrition

Calories: 79kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 88mg | Potassium: 26mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 50IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 61mg | Iron: 1mg