Sunday, November 30, 2014

Mario’s Linguine With Clam Sauce

Time for another recipe from my protagonist Sally Solari’s family. Up today is her dad Mario's famous linguine with clam sauce. 

The flat shape of linguine (“little tongues,” in Italian) provides the perfect vehicle to soak up this luscious sauce. Served with a tossed green salad and crunchy francese bread, the dish makes for a surprisingly easy meal. All you need is clams, clam juice, white wine, garlic (certo!), olive oil, butter, flat leaf (aka Italian) parsley, and of course linguine. Chili pepper flakes are optional. (The amounts specified below should serve four hungry people.)

my mise en place (messo in posto?)

Any type of clams will work for this dish, but the hardshell varieties—such as Littleneck, Manila, or Cherry Stones—have a lot less grit and, if store-bought, should already be cleaned and flushed of sand. Discard any clams that have cracked shells, or which are open and won’t close within a couple minutes after being tapped on the kitchen counter.

the Manila clams I used

Start by getting a large pot of salted water heating for the linguini.

In another large, heavy pot (big enough to hold the entire dish when it’s been made), heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until glistening. Add thinly-sliced garlic (about 6 cloves) and fry for a minute, stirring often so they don’t burn.

Next, add a pinch of chili flakes, if you want.

When the garlic starts to brown, add a bottle of clam juice and a cup of dry white wine to the pot.

Let this simmer until reduced by about a third.

Robin hanging out while I heat the linguine water
and simmer the clam juice and wine

By now your water should be boiling. Dump in a pound (one box) of linguine, and cook until al dente. When it’s done, drain and then toss it in olive oil to keep it from sticking together.

Meanwhile, turn the heat up to high under the sauce and dump your clams (2 pounds) into the pot and cover. When they are all open (from 4 to 8 minutes, depending on the type of clams), remove them to a bowl with a slotted spoon and cover the bowl to keep them warm.

Leaving the heat on high, let the sauce boil (uncovered) until reduced by half. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and let it melt, and then turn off the heat under the pot.

Dump the cooked linguine into the sauce pot.

Stir it all up well, so all the pasta is coated with sauce. Add a handful of chopped parsley, and salt and pepper to taste, and then add back the clams and any liquid that has collected in the bowl, and stir it all together:

Serve in large, shallow bowls and garnish with more chopped parsley, and extra chili flakes, if desired (see top photo). For a more elegant presentation you can plate up the linguine without the clams and then arrange them around the edge of the bowls.

the remnants of my meal, along with a green salad and francese bread

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