* 2 dozen small littleneck clams
* 1/3 cup olive oil
* 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
* 1 cup chopped onion
* 4-5 large garlic cloves, chopped
* 2 large fresh diced plum tomatoes
* fresh ground pepper
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1 small bay leaf
* 2/3 cup dry white wine
* 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
* 2 ounces cooked ham, coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)
1.Several hours before cooking, scrub the clams and soak them in a large basin of cold salted water. Change the water and wash the clams several times, until the water remains clear and free of sediment when stirred.
2. Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven large enough to hold the clams in one layer. Add the chile pepper and onion. When the onion softens, add half the garlic. Cook briefly, then add the tomatoes, a generous grinding of pepper, the rest of the garlic, the oregano and the bay leaf. When the tomatoes are bubbling nicely, add the white wine & bring to a boil.
3. Reduce the sauce slightly, lover the heat and stir in half the parsley. Then add the ham, mixing to combine, followed by the clams, arranged side by side. Sprinkle with a little more parsley, saving some to add when the clams have opened.
4. Cover the pot and simmer about 10 minutes or til all the clams have opened. As they cook, check them frequently, each time spooning the sauce over them. When the clams have opened, sprinkle with the remaining parsley. Discard any that don't open.
5. Serve accompanied with a basket of good crusty bread to soak up the juice.