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Dec 25, 2009 04:49 PM

Old School Italian-American Red Clam Sauce - NYC style

Hey everybody:

I am in search of a recipe for an old school Italian-American Red Clam Sauce. Lately, the cravings have become upright and center in my brain. I am a New Yorker, living in Savannah and need the familiar home-style dish. There are Italian versions around, which are good, but not the subject of my craving.

Of course, I know the basics and could probably just wing it and see what happens. But, I'd like to hear some other points of view. The sauce at issue is very light, but has much more tomato base than the Italian versions and lots of garlic and olive oil. Clams are chopped and few are presented on top in their shells. When thinking of examples that lots of people may know, Carmine's is close.

Before I go with my gut, and the one recipe I could find online, what do you think?


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  1. just a reminder that someone gave you this recipe in response to a similar post a couple of years ago:

    did you forget? or did you not like the recipe? if you didn't like it for some reason, i'd suggest this one from Food & Wine magazine:

    ETA: wait! i found the recipe from Carmine's if that helps...

    4 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      "ETA: wait! i found the recipe from Carmine's if that helps..."

      That's an impressive find, but... I'm not sure how true it is to the restaurant recipe.

      One thing that really stands out is the cooking of the garlic. I've never had the clam sauce at Carmine's, but I did have the red sauce, and I definitely recall the garlic chunks being very pale- almost white. If they're barely cooking the garlic for the red sauce, I highly doubt they'd saute it until "golden brown" for the clam sauce. Not a chance.

      Food and wine sautes the garlic on 'moderately low' heat for 1 minute while the recipe above that recommends sauteing the garlic until 'puffy.' Both are much more 'Carmine-ish' than medium high heat for 1 min. or 'golden brown.'

      Also, on the few times I've been to Carmines, the wait was pretty extensive, so I remember looking (somewhat longlingly as I was invariably hungry) at a lot of dishes that people were getting, and it seemed like the common denominator was a very deep dark red- not canned whole tomatoes or puree red, but paste red. At least, that's how I recall it.

      The pale garlic I'm absolutely certain about- the paste based sauce- not quite as much, but I have a pretty good feeling. Lastly... I'm the least certain about this, but my gut is telling me that Carmine's adds some sugar to their red sauce and possibly other sauces as well. If you look at it from a historical perspective, Carmines comes from a time when sugar wasn't quite so villified, and, being a restaurant, you know they're going to try to jazz it up any way they can.

      I can't tell you that sugar is in it, but I also woudn't rule it out completely.

      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        Thanks, no I was not happy with that last try a couple of years ago, thanks. The Carmine's link seems to be an error!! Ekkk

        1. re: Feed Me

          do you mean an error as in the wrong recipe? because i just clicked on the link and it worked fine...

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            It seems to work for me now -- THANKS SO MUCH!!!

      2. Lots of clam juice and white wine would be key. Shallots or garlic sauteed first, more than usual for a marinara. Some hot pepper flakes and fresh parsley, as you like.