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I searched around for recipes for this but could not get quite the combo I sought, so here is what I worked out. I hope some of you might find this useful !


4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium to large shallot, minced
extra-virgin olive oil (evoo)
7 anchovies, mashed to paste with fork

10-12 ou.chopped clams, fresh or frozen and
defrosted; drained and chopped well

1 c. clam juice (from drained clams and bottled as needed)
1 1/2 cup dry white wine
2 -3 T. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. chili flakes
4 pieces bacon,cooked and chopped

12 ou. fresh pasta or 8 ou.dry, cooked til al dente, drained and
cooled w/ cold water
kosher salt
2-3 T. frozen or cold unsalted butter
1/2 c. chopped flat parsley

Boil pasta in salted water til al dente, remove from the water to a colander,drain and run under cold water; reserve. Keep pot of pasta water at a simmer on the side.

Meanwhile, in a little EVOO saute the shallot over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant, about
1-2 minutes. Add anchovies and chili flakes,for a few minutes.Add bacon and white wine and reduce by 2/3.
Meanwhile, in another saucepan, heat clam juice to a boil, turn down to low simmer and add clams, continually stirring until they just turn opaque and are cooked through, 3-5 minutes. DO NOT BOIL! Remove from heat; drain clams in colander, pushing down to extract juice, reserving juice.

Add this clam juice to the shallot mixture, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, to reduce it by about half, for about 5 minutes. Taste and add seasonings as needed. Add the clams and simmer a few minutes til hot. Do not allow to boil or clams will toughen. Add lemon juice.
Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Return the pasta to the hot water for a few minutes, then pour out into colander and drain. Return pasta to empty pot, toss w/ salt, add clam sauce and stir well. Mix in butter and parsley and serve.

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  1. Sounds good though with fresh clams it could be divine. I have two observations. One, although I love bacon, I think it might become too dominant a flavor in this. Two, I would skip the whole step with the clams in the saucepan. If they're already chopped, simmering them for just a few minutes at the end, IMO, would be enough to cook them through without the risk of making them tough. Now if only I had a few dozen littlenecks in my frig.

    1 Reply
    1. re: escondido123

      you know, e, you might be right about the clam cooking, though mine were def'tly not overcooked.
      as to the bacon, it was not at all overpowering for us.but then again, you can just start conservative add add more if needed.(we keep an inventory of cooked bacon in the frig).

    2. That looks wonderful. Copied and saved.

      1. Thank you...looks really lovely...one of the simplest meals during hot summer weather is pasta with clam sauce...this is fancier but looks very worthwhile!

        1. I dont like to rinse my pasta under water after I cook it. Since pasta is like a sponge, it soaks up water and makes the texture/flavor bland. instead, i drizzle some evoo over the pasta after cooking it and let it cool down on its own.

          7 Replies
          1. re: darrentran87

            darre, how interesting. does that keep it from continuing to cook or do you need to cook it a little less than you ultimately want?

            1. re: opinionatedchef

              The pasta will be more flavorful if you cook it one minute less and then put it directly into the sauce to finish. This way the pasta will actually absorb some of the sauce. If it absorbs too much sauce and the dish becomes too dry, add a little of the pasta water to thin it out. I cook all dried pasta this way.

              Adding bacon and anchovies to chopped clams sounds great.
              If I happen to get really good fresh in the shell clams, I love to steam them with garlic, wine (or sometimes vermouth) and tarragon and then finish cooking the linguine in the resulting liquid. However, this doesn't work at all if the clams are not fresh...

              1. re: lrealml

                i'm going to do this, so thnx so much. as to your last sentence, you could still finish your pasta in bottled clam juice..............yes?

                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  Of course! I think it would be great if you finish the pasta in the sauce before you add the clams back.
                  I was just saying that my linguine and clam recipe is very simple and only works if I have a lot of awesome fresh clams with a lot of flavor. If the clams are sub-par, it turns out really bland. I think with frozen clams, adding the bacon and the anchovies is a good idea... I'll have to try it some time.

              2. re: opinionatedchef

                it doesnt stop it from cooking. i usually take it off the heat just a bit before it's done. but i'm not really picky about texture (as long, of course, as it's not overcooked/undercooked).

                irealml is right about putting it directly in the sauce to finish. i know thats what a lot of restaurant chefs do

              3. re: darrentran87

                After draining, I always toss the pasta in a little of the clam sauce. It sucks in those wonderful flavors and keeps it from sticking together. My Tuscan neighbor showed me that one. Your recipie is remarkably close to mine, except for the bacon and anchovies. I add a diced fresh tomato when reducing the wine, garlic, lemon juice, etc. I might try some browned diced pancetta and see what happens.

                1. re: flavrmeistr

                  I love adding chopped fresh tomatoes, too, near the end, though so it just barely gets heated.

              4. Glad to see you have chili flakes in there. I'd use 1) diced and rendered pancetta or 2) a bit of diced prosciutto, but that's just me. Bacon is a reasonable sub and lots of garlic for the shallot for a different zip.

                As an ex-Yankee, I heartily appreciate the addition of the clam juice. This is now on my to make list for the week, as I haven't for some time. Thanks for posting this, oc.

                Can you get fresh chucked clams in their juices from a fishmonger where you are? I've used those in the past; after a rough chop or quick pulse in the FP, and the juice, for a really quick and easy version, without the hassle of home chucking or steaming. Frozen defrosted chopped clams are very good also.

                As other posters have mentioned, I don't rinse pasta ever, or chill pasta in advance unless I'm making a pasta salad. For your dish, I would cook the pasta and clams separately but simultaneously, toss together and allow the pasta to quickly finish in the sauce. Poster Irealml's comments about cooking pasta for less time and finishing it in the sauce is a technique I use also, and is the technique restaurants generally use.

                11 Replies
                1. re: bushwickgirl

                  No, no...once a Yankee, always a Yankee (like the Marines!). ;) One Yankee to another, I've made something very similar to this with bacon (minus the anchovies), and the addition of roasted peppers and capers. I think of it as the pasta version of clams casino, a nod to our New England heritage for sure!
                  I've been wanting to make it again for a while. Hmm, might be what's cookin' today!

                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                    bushgirl, always a pleasure to hear from you! I get my frozen shucked clams in their juices from Whole Foods.Maybe fresh clams are better, but this product is v good and one of the advantages is NO SAND or grit! I was also thrilled that , once opened, they had a shelf life of at least 4 days later, which surprised and relieved me (i hate the guilt of throwing away once good protein because i couldn't get motivated enough soon enough. PARTICULARLY now that i'm retired.)

                    as to a local monger fresh shucking- i don't know. they do that for me in ca. when i visit, but my local WF here said it's illegal and i haven't asked anyone else. I'll have to remember to check that.

                    glad to have a new and improved technique for pasta cooking, thnx to youall.

                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                      But if you steam the clams, the shells open fine and dandy. Very easy. And, IMO, way, way better. I don't get chopping them much less putting in the FP. I really want to see those little guys :) I love Spanish chorizo with clams so like the idea of something porky. I just bought a nice thick slice of pancetta yesterday. Maybe I'll see if I can find some clams.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        funny,i have a recently uncovered old Gourmet recipe for fideo with chorizo and chickpeas, and i thought i might also add clams to that..............

                        1. re: c oliver

                          Often the fresh whole shucked clams in juice you buy in New England are good sized, quahogs and up, and can be quite a chewy mouthful when cooked whole, to say nothing of trying to suck down a quahog on the half shell. Nothing wrong with whole clams in pasta, especially if using littlenecks or cherrystones fresh out of the shell, but the bigger ones are better chopped. Just depends on the size of the clam you have.

                          Chorizo and chickpeas are a great addition ot this dish.

                          1. re: bushwickgirl

                            Agreed. I used shucked quahogs for a chowder when we were house exchanging on Cape Cod a couple of years ago. NO WAY would those have been used whole :) I was definitely thinking of small clams. It seems to be something that generally is pretty decently priced. I've never tried the chickpea idea but I like them in everything so why not?

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Yup, quahogs are often referred to as chowder clams, and also used, chopped or coarsely ground, in those clam cakes you see in MA, CT and RI.

                            2. re: bushwickgirl

                              bgirl, it's quite a different recipe i'm referring to. after looking at it for 5 months, i've just spent a furious 1/2 hour looking for it, and cannot find it. arghhhhh! anyway, it's moroccan or portuguese or something. i think. fideo- in this case vermecelli- fried first- (then maybe poached i can't remember.)tossed w / chickpeas and chorizo and pimenton maybe........... if i ever find it i'll correct myself.

                              I HATE looking for stuff. sigh.

                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                Sounds like a riff on the Spanish dish called "Fideos a Banda"

                            3. re: c oliver

                              If you've got leftover pancetta, check the "forgotten veg" thread in GCH - I posted a recipe for asparagus that uses pancetta, and I know you and your asparagus.....
                              : )

                              1. re: mamachef

                                I'll check it out. I remember Veggo/Veg was confused when he started getting emails from people saying they hadn't forgotten him :)

                                I'm rather an asparagus snob, having been able for many years to get local, out of the garden this morning asparagus. But pancetta cures many ills.

                          2. opinionatedchef, did you post this recipe somewhere else? or is it an adaptation of something you saw here? it looks so familiar, but I can't put my finger on it exactly...hhmmmm.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: mamachef

                              chef, no, i actually just created it the other night and posted it soon after. i combined a number of different recipes' elements and then did my own take. kattyeyes posted a link to her recipe (on her blog) on this board before.

                            2. No one seems to have mentioned the word Vongole, or is it not used in the US?


                              Tricky getting fresh clams in some places I guess, but the addition of bacon or chorizo as suggested by others here sounds lovely.

                              31 Replies
                              1. re: Robin Joy

                                We might see vongole in Italian restaurants but not in general.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  Isn't Vongole just the correct term for the dish being talked about here? How does it differ from Vongole you might see in an Italian restaurant? Just curious.

                                  1. re: Robin Joy

                                    Maybe it depends on where in the world you are. I'm in CT and grew up in an Italian-American restaurant. We sold clams, but didn't refer to them by their Italian name, vongole...nor was veal vitello...depends if you want to keep the name all Italian, all English or some combo of the two. Not a matter of right or wrong--just kinda funny. Around here I'm not sure I've seen "vongole" very frequently. Is that what you see on menus in your neck of the woods?

                                    1. re: kattyeyes

                                      I've seen "linguine con vongole" and other combinations in many Italian restaurants in many necks of the woods. 'Course they tend to be restaurants where the whole menu is Italian which is more encouraging to me than when it's all in English. But I've never dined in CT so maybe it's just a thing there.

                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                        Here in the UK the word vongole will be used almost 100% of the time in restaurants, although it's "clams" when buying them. I expect it's a combination of our Italian restaurateurs being of more recent extraction, a desire to sound authentic and the average Brit's depressing attitude towards real food: "Clams? Oh. Er...No thank you"

                                        1. re: Robin Joy

                                          Interesting...and funny! Yes, please pass the vongole. :)

                                          1. re: Robin Joy

                                            That sound like a smart deduction about the terminology.

                                            A bit OT on my own thread but- have the "ave brits" incorporated Indian/Pakistani food into their eating habits?

                                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                                              Yes. Big time. Nine pints of lager, a fight at a local Indian restaurant and waking up fully clothed the next afternoon is the perfect Friday night for millions of my countrymen. Off topic though. Finis.

                                              1. re: Robin Joy

                                                well actually i asked you that so i could say,
                                                Isn't it funny that 'the ave brit' would accept indian food but not clams?!

                                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                  Maybe it's a texture thing. Or maybe it's that Indian food won't spit at you in the sink as clams will. :P HA HA!

                                                  ETA: Robin Joy, you are a funny guy...I distinctly remember a line you wrote about your wife and a frying pan when I first started posting...something about "like watching a whale try to knit." Still funny!

                                                  1. re: kattyeyes

                                                    CT clams spit????????????? Sheesh, no wonder you smack them to smithereens. How do they spit and why do they spit? Spitting clams. Amazing.

                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                      i bet for a fact your sweet pie w/ the pink collar doesn't spit :-)

                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        Manno's (AKA softshells, pisser clams) will give you a good spritz. They aren't really spitting, they're just trying to get away from you.

                                                        1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                          That's a good explanation--if I were a clam, I'd do the same--HEY! BACK OFF!!! :) Can't blame 'em...or scallops, either. Thankfully, they can try all they want, but we're gonna eat 'em, anyway.

                                                      2. re: kattyeyes

                                                        I misspoke--scallops spit. I do think clams might spit, also (piss clams?!), but never at me. Scallops I have witnessed personally in my own sink.

                                                2. re: Robin Joy

                                                  I guess the difference is that when buying them in the grocery, you're not necessarily going to be making something Italian with them. Hey, maybe you're making Clams Casino, a good old Rhode Island dish :)

                                                  1. re: Robin Joy

                                                    I was wondering if it was an aubergine/eggplant or shrimp/prawn type language difference but it also sounds like a pig/pork thing.

                                                3. re: Robin Joy

                                                  Vongole is the Italian word for clams, not the name of this specific dish, but listed on an Italian menu this dish would be "pasta con le vongole, vino e aglio" or something similar. I could go to a Italian owned fish market in New York City and ask for vongole, and get what I wanted, but generally the word clam is used in the US. We're just not that continental here in the US.

                                                  There are many variations of clam dishes on Italian menus, all with vongole in the title, to indicate that clams are present the dish.

                                                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                    Thanks--I should have been more clear. I don't know why I assumed everyone knew vongole meant clams in Italian.

                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                      just fyi, i used clams in the title so it would come up for people searching clam recipes. i always design my titles w/ 'search' in mind, particularly restaurant reviews.

                                                  2. re: Robin Joy

                                                    I always thought (small) clams were cozze, as in spaghetti con cozze (which sounds exactly like the German word for, um, puke), and vongole were mussels. But what do I know...

                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                      Try a new browser with automatic translation.
                                                      Download Google Chrome
                                                      From:English▼To:Italian▼Translate text or webpage
                                                      mussels and clams

                                                      ListenRead phoneticallyEnglish to Italian translation
                                                      cozze e vongole

                                                      brush up on those linguas, matie!

                                                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                        I have Google Chrome - didn't like it. Love Safari. Not interested in automatic translations. Pretty happy with my language skills.

                                                        And I'd say I was pretty damn close, oc. Just switched 'em around.

                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                          aw gee, lingua, why is it smart people so often can't take a joke? glad to learn of safari; don't know it. thanx.

                                                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                            my reply was about as lighthearted as yours. seriously. i was neither offended nor anything like that.

                                                            safari rocks.

                                                      2. re: linguafood

                                                        i'm a little late in jumping in but I'm an Italian-American from NY who knows a little of the language and also a fair bit about seafood. Vongole is poorly translated as clams because in Italy there are many types of clams that aren't available here [eg, dateri that look like dates]. Cozze are mussels. Both words are feminine so they end in 'a' as singulare and the 'a' becomes 'e' in plural. For masculine nouns, singular is o and i is plural. I haven't heard much about un linguino...
                                                        Also, we have a number of types of specific ones, too. Especially related to clam sauce, my parents used to get soft shell steamers and cook them, chop up the 'neck' or siphon, and use that whole belly in the sauce. you also get a delicious broth, which can include wine, parsley, garlic, etc.. Cleaning them or eating steamers is a workout as the skin covering the siphon is hare to get off, you have to make sure the membrane holding the shells together is removed and wash them in the broth to get rid of sand or mud. They improve the taste by a couple of notches. Then there are hard shell clams: cherrystones, littlenecks, or quahogs are just names for tiny, small and big clams.Chopped they are pretty good. Sea clams have their outer portion removed and they are clam strips. Whole belly clams are IMHO the best for fried clams. Now, farmed Manila clams are available in seafood markets. Mussels can be steamed with onions garlic, linguica and even potatoes to become a Portuguese clambake.
                                                        I definitely agree with putting sauce in the pasta. i also use Dececco or Barilla pasta in shapes such as cavatappi, fusilli, campanile. they have nooks and crannies to hold sauce and goodies.
                                                        I hope someone reads this!

                                                        1. re: jcivetta

                                                          well, j, grazie mille! this info is most helpful and i will aim to use steamers next time. thnx so much.

                                                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                            If you reaaaaalllllly want the best, make sure the steamers came from sand, not mud. they have a nutty flavor and don't smell like low tide.

                                                            1. re: jcivetta

                                                              HA! Never occurred to me; and here i've been in clam land (Boston) the last 40 yrs! And I call myself a clam lover???sheesh...

                                                          2. re: jcivetta

                                                            You made my mouth water with your description of what your family used to do. Squisito!

                                                  3. Sounds good! I do something similar, only add the clam juice to the wine mixture and reduce. As it reduces, I add clams and/or shrimp a few minutes before it's done. And, I prefer this w/ semolina pasta, preferably bronze cut to absorb all the flavors. It's a great quick meal and works well w/ canned clams, too. I haven't done it w/ bacon but it sounds good, as does the pancetta that bushwickgirl suggested. I'd probably saute it, remove the pancetta/bacon and add it at the end so it doesn't get soft.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                      That IS a better idea, I think, adding the bacon (or pancetta) at the end so it stays nice 'n crispy. Next time! And +1 on your vongole comment.

                                                        1. re: kattyeyes

                                                          I've had soft bacon far too often and like being able to taste it. Crispy is good!

                                                        2. re: chowser

                                                          Directions for french reduction sauces always have you reducing the wine first, then the stock added and reduced further. Cooks Ill. actrually did a piece where they compared the methods and they confirmed the necessity of this sequence. Funny enough for me to remember that(and it wasn't very long ago ;-) but sorry i can't quote the date of the piece.

                                                          I am a loyal southern girl in one major respect- bacon will never be my second choice after pancetta.(Even after living in Italy, i still don't like pancetta.)
                                                          That said, bacon is a very assertive taste and i didn't want it to overpower the clams, so i added it before the plating - to infuse and absorb the other sauce flavors.

                                                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                            Yes, I add wine, reduce and then add the clam sauce and reduce--which was what I meant about adding it to the wine mixture. Sorry it wasn't clear. I meant doing that, instead of using another pot to reduce the clam juice and cook the clams, as in your directions. Mine is a two pot meal--one for the sauce, one for the pasta.

                                                            I have no problems w/ strong bacon and clams, personally. I love clams casino. But I love both pancetta and bacon and can't choose one over the other. I think I'm going to use that analogy if my kids ever ask which I love better.

                                                        3. FYI...Canned clams are already cooked. If you are using them for clam sauce you only need to add them at the last minute.

                                                          What I usually do is make it with a mix of live clams and chopped canned. This ups the clam to pasta ratio. Vongole work best

                                                          1. My old time favorite is this:
                                                            If using steamers, put them in quite warm water with lots of salt and they will spit out the sand in no time flat. If not, do one more time, rinse, then put in cold salted water. Littleneck clams work equally well in this recipe. I buy the large bag from Costco. Littlenecks only need to be rinsed as they do not tend to be sandy inside.

                                                            Fry together in a good amount of olive and/or regular cooking oil:
                                                            A large bunch of curly parsley leaves
                                                            Tons of chopped garlic
                                                            Salt & pepper to taste

                                                            If the garlic starts to burn, add a little water to slow it down. Cook slowly for a few minutes, and then add:
                                                            1 cup water or wine

                                                            Let come to boil for a few minutes & add 4-5 lbs. raw steamers. Steam 5-7 minutes or until open. Periodically toss the clams around to disperse the mixture.

                                                            You may either add the al dente pasta to the mixture or serve the sauce over pasta in a nice big bowl.

                                                            Linguine or perciatelli are best with this dish served with lots of grated cheese as an accompaniment.

                                                            One never thinks of parsley as a spice, but when it’s fried up in this recipe, it’s an essential part of the dish. Adding the water or wine will give you a little more broth for the sauce. For added garlic flavor, reserve a little raw chopped garlic and add it to the clams after they’re done. A very simple, delicious meal.