Clams have never been high on my list of seafoods, so its rather strange that I have fallen in love with this recipe. Bottom line: its simple and good, the two things I like when I’m cooking.
32 Littleneck clams, cleaned and rinsed [My clams come from Whole Foods]
2 fat garlic cloves, minced, plus 1 clove, crushed
1/2 cup dry white wine [I use Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck Chardonnay]
1 dried chile pepper [roughly chopped or cut up]
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, with juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 pound linguine [1 box/package]
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
Before I move on to the procedure, you need to make sure you have a nice sized pot for cooking the clams. I use my pasta pot, but any deep pot will do. If you’re wondering why such a large pot since there is so little liquid and so little clams, try it in a smaller pot and see what happens (enjoy cleaning your stove top).
1- In a separate pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and red chile flakes. Cook for approximately 30 seconds, stirring constantly (do not burn the garlic). Add the can of tomatoes. When the tomatoes start bubbling, cut the heat back to a simmer (about one notch). Stir occasionally.
2- In the deep pot add the wine, crushed garlic and dried chili pepper.
Turn the heat to high. The wine will come to a boil quickly, so have your clams ready-to-go. Add the clams to the pot, spreading evenly, and then cover with the lid.
Shake the pot occasionally. Cooking time of the original recipe is stated at 4 to 6 minutes, but for me its closer to 4. You can time it, peek, or simply wait until the liquid bubbles out (not recommended). You’re looking for the clams to open (opening equals done). Once they start opening, use your tongs to remove them one at a time leaving as much liquid in the pot as possible. Don’t fret if all the clams don’t open. Its typical for one or two to remain closed. Give up on those and toss them in the trash (not fit to eat). The last thing you want is for all the liquid to burn away. If it does, you’re screwed.
3- Drain the remaining liquid from the deep pot into a bowl, straining though a fine sieve or cheese cloth. Set aside.
The liquid might look like the dregs of a session of dish washing, but you would be mistaken. It’s the flavor of the recipe. It’s the gold.
4- Remove the clams from the their shells, rinse briefly to remove any sand and then roughly chop. Set aside.
5- In the deep pot add enough water to cook the pasta and a couple of pinches of salt (follow the pasta box instructions if you need specifics). When the water comes to a boil add the pasta.
6- Add the strained liquid from the clams to the tomato sauce.
7- About a minute before the pasta is ready (al dente), add the clams to the tomato sauce and turn the temperature for the tomato sauce to low.
8- Drain the pasta and plate accordingly (the original recipe states a serving size of four, but for me its two).
9- Garnish with the parsley. Enjoy!