Markets classify hard clams by size. The smallest, under 2 inches, is called the littleneck, after Little Neck Bay on Long Island, where they were once plentiful. Cherrystones are 2 to 3 inches and are named after Cherrystone Creek in Virginia. Topnecks are 3 to 3 1/2 inches. Any quahog larger than 3 1/2 inches is called a chowder clam.
Scrub clams thoroughly under cold, running water. Open clams, reserving 3/4 cup of clam liquor. Discard top shell. Chop clams.
In medium bowl, combine clam liquor, crumbs, Parmesan, parsley, garlic, oregano, thyme, basil, wine, pepper and olive oil.
Place clams on the half shell in a bed of rock salt in cooking pan. Top each with crumb mixture. Bake at 450 F until browned and clams are done, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serves 6 to 8.
Contributed by Joyce Taylor