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Help me troubleshoot a seafood pasta idea?

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So, I'm feeding 12 for dinner on Saturday (my parents' thirtieth anniversary), and am kicking around an idea for a main. I'd like to do a seafood pasta—clams, mussels, and shrimp, in a white wine/garlic/parsley sauce like the traditional linguine alle vongole sauce. But I'd like a brothier composition and a bigger protein portion than one generally gets seafood pastas, and I've been thinking about cooking off then removing the seafood in order to cook a smaller pasta (orecchiette?) risotto-style in the liquid, then adding the cooked protein back in. My thought is that the pasta will be more flavorful and that the starch it throws off will thicken the sauce up a bit.

Thoughts on this plan? I obviously haven't done it before, so I'm breaking my "no first-time recipes for big dinner parties" rule...

Edit: oh, dear, I've put my first thread in the wrong place. Sorry!

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  1. Maybe it's the late hour, but I'm a little confused--first you stated that you wanted a brothier composition, but then were looking for the pasta starch to thicken things up. I'd try a smaller portion as a run through first to check on the results, a 30th anniversary for 12 is no place to be experimenting...

    1 Reply
    1. re: KSlink

      Must have been the late hour for me, too—I want a higher proportion of broth and protein to pasta, but my thought about the starch is to give the broth a little body & tip the overall texture a bit towards stew, so the broth coats the seafood and pasta a little more thickly. I do wonder if the starch will overwhelm the broth, though.

    2. I'd think that fully cooking the pasta in the seafood broth would make the broth overly starchy and the pasta overly sticky. I'm with you on the brothier bit (yum, all that savory oceany goodness!) but the last thing you want is pasta slopping wetly about -- tough to eat without making a giant mess. Perhaps a divide-and-conquer strategy is your best bet? A second course of pasta, followed by a main of seafood in wine/garlic/parsley broth with crusty bread to sop up all those lovely juices?

      1. My main concern would be setting all that cooked seafood aside and then putting it back in to reheat. You're likely to end up with overcooked seafood.

        1. You could undercook the pasta and add it to the seafood broth. It'll absorb some of the flavor w/out making the broth overly gummy. I like cioppino over linguine/spagetti. Or, along your idea, use orzo or baby pastina that isn't as starchy.

          1. I always precook my fish because by doing one type at a time, I can get them all cooked properly. I would, however, leave them all a bit undercooked so that you don't overcook when reheating.

            3 Replies
            1. re: katecm

              I'm curious how you undercook mussels and clams. To me, once they're open, they're done--up until then they're not.

              1. re: escondido123

                True. I usually also have shrimp, scallops and cod, so those are the ones I'm referring to.

                1. re: escondido123

                  I always have problems with clams, somewhat less so mussels, opening fully when I put them in a paella. I now put the clams in the microwave for less than a minute first. They just barely open and are not yet fully cooked. Then, when I put them in the paella, I can be sure they will open fully and will be cooked without being overdone.