Linguini and Littleneck Clams

20120915-083514.jpgA bag of Littleneck Clams jumped into my shopping basket. The fishmonger put them in a plastic bag so it wouldn’t leak but gave me stern instructions not to close the bag and suffocate them. I appreciated the info but was a little bummed about the image…I try not to meet my food before I eat it. That may be a strange characteristic of a foodie but it works for me!

I know many of you need a recipe when you cook but read this through and get some confidence. You can do this!

Buy a bag of fresh Littleneck Clams, a pound of linguini, a package (jar or tin) of anchovies packed in oil, 2 lemons, a container of vegetable stock, fresh thyme and fresh parsley. You could use fresh garlic but this is a perfect use of the chopped garlic in a jar. No! It is absolutely not cheating! Absolutely not! You also need a bottle of good white wine…some for the pot and some to drink while cooking and eating :o)

Put a pasta pot filled with cold water on high. When the clams are steamed (see below) cook the linguine. Do you know why you should use cold water? Your hot water pipes may have sentiment or other things which can alter the quality of drinking water so always use cold water for cooking, coffee, tea etc..

With a brush, over cold water, scrub each clam vigorously to remove sand. You will never completely eliminate all of it but do this to remove as much as possible.

Remove stems (keep them for the clam pot) from parsley and coarsely chop. Zest one lemon and add it to the chopped parsley. Set aside for plating.

Open the white wine and pour yourself a glass. That’s what we call cooking wine in our house.

Put clams into a pot and pour about a cup of white wine (don’t use a measuring cup, learn to eyeball, it’s about four “glugs” from the bottle). Add about a cup of the stock to the pot along with a handful of fresh thyme. If I were to say what the most critical add in here, I would say its the thyme. It makes a big flavor impact. Dry is ok, too but the fresh looks cool and we want our food to look cool, right? After all, we do eat with our eyes first!

Put a cover on the pot and heat on high until the liquid gets to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and check in 5 minutes to see if they are opening. Once the clams begin to open remove each opened clam with tongs into a big bowl. If there are any unopened clams in the pot once the majority are open, discard them. They are not good and potentially dangerous to eat. Keep the precious liquid in the steam pot for use in the sauce.

In a heavy skillet (my well seasoned cast iron is my pal) heat about 1/4 cup good EVOO on medium high heat. Add anchovies in their oil (I got this great idea from Rachel Ray) and cook until nearly melted into the oil. Add about 4-5 minced garlic cloves or 2 heaping teaspoons of jar garlic and stir for about a minute. Lower heat to medium low.

Set aside about 5-6 clams per serving (technically you should get 4 servings from this but we usually barely feed 3) then remove the clams from the remaining shells and add to pan.

Roll each lemon a few times to release juice, slice in half and squeeze juice into pan over your cupped hand, catching the seeds. Remember, seeds taste bitter so try to avoid them. Add another cup of wine. Raise temperature again to medium high and reduce liquid by about half. Add a tablespoon of butter and melt into the shiny sauce.

Drain pasta and put into a large pasta bowl. If you don’t have a large pasta bowl, no worries, simply put the cooked linguini back into the pasta pot. Drizzle about 2-3 tablespoons herb infused olive oil and toss. Ladle 2-3 scoop of the clam cooking broth into bowl and toss again to coat.

Heat pasta bowls gently in oven for a minute. Put one ladle of clam broth in bowl. Add pasta then clams from the pan. Sprinkle some parsley and lemon zest on top then add the clams in the shell.

Now read this again. You CAN do this. Give it a try, take a picture and post it on my Facebook page

Have a yummy day!