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Recipe: PASTA WITH CLAMS, WHITE WINE AND GARLIC

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 !

PASTA WITH CLAMS, WHITE WINE AND GARLIC serves 2

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!
                  http://kattyskitchen.wordpress.com/20...
                  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.