Clams are a low-tide favorite on any American coast. Buy them as fresh as possible and discard any whose shells don't close when touched. Keep them well chilled and use within a day of purchase.
Serves 8 (serving size: 4 clams)
1. Bring wine to a boil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add clams; cover and cook 4 minutes or until shells open. Remove clams from pan, reserving cooking liquid. Discard any unopened shells. Strain cooking liquid through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a medium bowl. Cool clams. Discard top shells. Place clams, still in bottom shell halves, in a single layer on a baking sheet.
2. Return reserved cooking liquid to pan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until reduced to 3/4 cup (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat; remove 6 tablespoons cooking liquid from pan, and reserve for another use. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons butter to cooking liquid in pan; stir until butter melts. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon cooking liquid back into each clam shell.
3. Preheat broiler.
4. Place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until fine crumbs measure about 1/2 cup. Cook bacon in a small skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; finely chop. Add shallots to drippings in pan; sauté 30 seconds. Add 1 tablespoon butter to pan, stirring until melted.
5. Remove pan from heat; stir in breadcrumbs and bacon. Divide breadcrumb mixture evenly among clam shell halves, pressing mixture gently into shells. Broil 1 minute or until golden brown. Sprinkle with thyme.