Friday, March 24, 2017

Pasta con Le Vongole (Pasta with white clam sauce)


This is my favorite Italian recipe.  I don't know why its always the first thing I order upon my arrival in Italy.   I normally do not make this dish here in Mississippi as fresh clams are not available.    Recently, frozen clams from Goose Point, WA, showed up in the freezer section of our local supermarket.   I must admit, I was temporarily intrigued.  The skeptic that I am walked on by.   While I was standing in the check out line,  I realized that I just had to give them a try.   To my surpirse,  they were delicious.  Fresh and fragrant, I couldn't believe something so delicious came out of a freezer.   They are flash frozen when caught.   The incredible flavor reminded me of sitting at one of my favorite Trattoria's in Rome, Italy enjoying this dish.   Hard to believe here in Tupelo, MS,  this comes in a close second!

Ingredients for 6 people
2 packages baby clams ( goose point, little necks etc.),   (Butter discarded from package), approx. 2 pounds, Rinsed with some fresh water.  Pat dry with some paper towels and leave to drain in sink
4-5 cloves of garlic minced (Fresh, please do not use the jar variety)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup minced parsley plus scant handful for garnish
salt and pepper to taste.
Additional 2 tablespoons salt for your pasta water
1 pound spaghetti or linguine cooked just before al dente ( About 7 minutes)

Into a skillet, large enough to fit your pasta, warm your olive oil.  It should be almost hot to touch.   Carefully saute your garlic until fragrant.   Add your clams, quick saute.   Add 2 teaspoons of salt and pepper to taste.  Keep cooking for 5-7 minutes on medium-high.   At this point, lower your heat some, add your white wine.   Raise your heat back up to medium-high and let reduce by half.     Set aside. In the meantime put your water to boil.  Cook your spaghetti or linguine until just before al dente.   Drain  and place in your skillet and raise the heat again.  Your liquid remaining in your pan from your clams will help continue to cook your pasta along and  give it fantastic flavor.  Garnish with parsley  and serve.  Garnish your plates with additional Parsley and additional olive oil.

*Please note:  If you find these clams in your local freezer they are almost always pre-cooked.   Your clams will look partially opened.  They will continue to open while you are cooking this dish.   If you are using fresh,  which is ideal for this dish, place your lid on your pan immediately and let steam open your clams.  The clam shells will extract additional liquid while cooking.     After about 3-5 minutes, remove your lid,   Add your wine and continue to reduce.  Remove some of your empty  clam shells and  Add 2 teaspoons of salt, pepper to taste).   Keep reducing.  Follow directions above for serving.   Discard any un-opened clams~ Buon Appetito

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Spaghetti wilth clam and Mussel Sauce (al Sugo di Vongole e Cozze).

The wonderful thing about the Italian kitchen is its versatility.  Fresh clams and Mussels are incredibly easy to use.  Just takes a little time to clean and prepare.  Many come already cleaned by your fish Monger.  For those of you of course, who just can't stand the thought.  All they really need is a gentle rinse.  Have your Fish store Advise you on proper care.  
  This is yet another tasty dish I love to make, especially in Summer, as it cooks up fast and will delight the most discriminating pallet.  Enjoy!
Ingredients for 4-6 people
One pound little neck clams or any small clam
One pound black mussels
Handful of fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic diced
4 tablespoons olive oil
One teaspoons salt
One teaspoon pepper
2 cups of fresh tomatoes and their juice (store bought canned is fine if fresh is not on hand)
1/2 cup white wine
One pound Di Cecco Spaghetti (or any good quality pasta)
Large pasta pot with 8 quarts water
One tablespoon plus 1/2 tablespoon salt

Method: If you are using fresh clams and mussels, make sure your shellfish is clean and ready. Gently remove any grit with a brush from the shells and place them in a chilled bowl.
In a large skillet, heat your oil.  Add your garlic and saute until fragrant.  Add your mussels and clams at the same time.  Quickly add your lid.  Wait 5 minutes and lift your lid from the pan.  You will begin to notice that most of your shellfish has opened.  Add your wine and place your lid back on the pan for 5 more minutes.  Remove your lid, turn your heat down and remove all your mussels and clams from the pan.  Do not worry if some of the liquid is going in the bowl too.  You will have about a half a cup. 
At this point add another tablespoon of oil to the same pan and heat.  Add your tomatoes (I like to puree mine in the blender), continue to cook until your tomatoes are fragrant and reduced (about 7-8 minutes on medium).
When you see a ring of oil iss formed around the pan, its time to add your shellfish back to the pan.  Give it a mix and let reduce 5 more minutes.

I like to remove some of my empty shells.   I leave about half intact for presentation and flavor.
Cook you pasta until just al dente, toss with your sauce add your parsley and serve. Buon Appetito

*Special Note:  If you are using frozen clams and mussels, the method is quite the same.  Your cooking time will reduce by about 5 minutes.  Give them a quick rinse and discard any shells you see cracked.  They will be surprisingly delicious. *