For the oysters:
6 thick slices smoked bacon
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced shallots
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons finely chopped green peppers
3 tablespoons finely chopped red sweet peppers
3 tablespoons dry sherry
2 teaspoons Worcestershire
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Dashes hot sauce (such as Ed’s Red brand)
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
Pinch sea salt
24 Gulf Coast top neck clams, scrubbed and shucked, bottom shells reserved
3 lemons cut into wedges
For the cheese mixture:
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan Reggiano
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
Cut the butter into 1-inch pieces, place into a small mixing bowl and put in a warm area (about 80°F) for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the bacon on a baking pan on middle oven rack and bake until three-fourths cooked, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove bacon from pan and half each slice, and then quarter each half into 1-inch pieces, for a total of approximately 24 pieces. Reserve the bacon fat for the casino butter mixture.
For the Casino (Compound) butter: In a mixing bowl, combine the bacon fat, butter, shallots, garlic, peppers, sherry, Worcestershire, red pepper flakes, hot sauce, chives, and a pinch of salt. Stir together until smooth, like thick yogurt. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine the Parmesan and panko. Preheat gas grill or prepare and light a charcoal grill for medium-high heat. Use a clam knife to carefully open clams, and loosen the clams from the muscles on the shell. Reserve their liquor in their half-shells. To assemble: Place each loosened clam in its shell on a baking pan. Sprinkle each clam with a light dusting of the Parmesan and panko mixture, as this will provide texture for the butter to adhere too. Next, apply a generous teaspoon of compound butter onto each clam, and then sprinkle over, dividing the remaining Parmesan mixture among the 24 clams. Place one piece of the bacon over each clam.
Transfer the prepared clams one at a time onto to a wire baking rack once they have all been filled (see note below). Place onto preheated grill. Let the clams cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Place a bit of additional compound butter over the clam as they flame and brown a bit on the edges. Let them continue to cook in their own juices for a few minutes, just until the edges curl and the butter is bubbly. Remove clams from the grill. Squeeze lemon wedges over the clams just before serving.
Note: Handling the clams one by one over an open fire can be difficult. It’s optional, but in large quantities I suggest using a standard baking wire cooling rack so you can move the clam-loaded wire rack using tongs and a kitchen towel, with one swift move, and then transfer the rack directly to the grill. A spray bottle is good for taming the flames caused by dripping butter, if flames get too high.