Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Linguine & Clams... Forgive the Atrocious Lighting, Please!

This was from way back a few weeks ago... Christmas Dinner, 2009.  Ugh.  I think I was disappointed by the quality of the photos, which is why it's appearing now for the first time.  This was pre-daylight florescent in the kitchen.  Oh, well.  It's still damn good, even if the photos aren't so great.  I'll just have to make it again.  And I'm serious... this might be the best linguine & clams recipe you'll ever find... ever!  I'm willing to bet on that.  In fact, I can't believe I'm airing this recipe w/o copyright protection.



INGREDIENTS:

Clams, In-Shell: 3 lbs.  They need to be AFAP (as fresh as possible!), so purchase the day-of, or at the worst, the day before making this dish.
Clams, Chopped: 16 oz, fresh or frozen, but NOT canned.  **Coastal Seafoods carries fresh-chopped clams w/ juices in a 16 oz container.
Anchovies: 2 oz, I prefer oil packed to keep control of the salt level in the dish.
Onion: 2 med, med dice - yellow or white, not red.
Roasted Garlic: one-half bulb, cloves squeezed from their skins. 
Bacon: 1 pound.
Linguine: 2 lbs.
Thyme: one-half bunch, must be fresh.  Do not substitute dried... it will not be the same.
Red Pepper Flake: 2 scant tsp - 1 tbsp if you like a more pronounced note of heat.
White Wine: 1 bottle - you'll use some and drink some while cooking, so choose something you like.
Lemon Zest: 1 lg lemon, save the fruit for a squeeze over the dish at the end.
Italian Parsley: healthy bunch - roughly chopped, but discard stems
On-Hand: unsalted butter, xvoo, s&p, all-purpose flour, Parmigiano Reggiano and a piece of its rind (NOT the Parmesan from a shaker bottle or shredded container... this is the real deal).


PROCESS:



1) Clean the clams: under running water, scrub the shells w/ a stiff brush to remove any grit.  Next, fill a large bowl w/ cold water and whisk in a couple heaped tablespoons of all-purpose flour.  Submerge the clams in the water for about 20 minutes... do not stir them around.  Gently remove them straight out of the bowl and transfer to a dry bowl.  **The idea is that the live clams will open up and exchange the water inside their shell for the new, cleaner water, dispelling any grit or dirt inside. 

2) While the clams are soaking, fry the bacon in a cast-iron skillet on med-hi heat.  Make sure it's crispy!  Drain bacon on a plate or tray lined w/ paper toweling to absorb the drippings and crumble it when it cools.  Drain most of the fat from the pan, but leave a slick along with the browned bits at the bottom of the pan.


3) Return pan to a med-hi heat and add the diced onion and a pinch of kosher salt.  Allow the onions to brown for 2-3 minutes before stirring.  The onions will release their liquids and begin to form a pan-sauce w/ the bacon drippings and bits.  **YUM!!!  Saute onions for about 5-6 mins.

4) In a large, shallow, 4-5 quart saucier pan (kinda like this, though I do not like non-stick), heat 4 tbsp of butter along with a couple tbsp. of xvoo on med-hi heat.


5) Transfer the onions/juices from the iron skillet to the saucier along with the anchovies, roasted garlic, thyme, red pepper flake, Parmigiano rind, a good pinch of ground black pepper, and a healthy splash of white wine.  **Make sure to pour yourself a glass of wine at this point if you haven't already!  Reduce heat to med and saute for 10-12 mins, stirring occasionally.  Continue to add wine as sauce thickens and reduces.  You should use at least half the bottle.

6) As the saucier pan sautes, bring a pot of water to boil for the linguine and cook about 7 minutes to a firm al dente.  Drain the pasta, timing it so the pasta goes immediately into the saucier pan to simmer.  **Do not rinse the pasta!


7) To the saucier, add the chopped clams w/ their juices, another good splash of white wine, season w/ s&p, and bring to a simmer.  Add about 2/3 of the drained linguine and toss w/ tongs to coat pasta in the sauce.  **There should be plenty of liquid for the pasta to simmer in.  You can add a bit more pasta if you want a lighter sauce at the end, but do not add more than 3/4 of the cooked linguine.


8) Cover the saucier w/ a lid and saute the pasta for 3-4 minutes.  Remove the lid, toss the pasta, then add the shell clams, parsley, and lemon zest but do not mix yet.  Cover the pan and allow the clams to steam open for the next 6-7 minutes.  Now toss pasta w/ the clams and again cover for another 2-3 minutes.  **This will be ready to serve immediately, so have a big bowl or individual plates ready to go! 

9) Transfer pasta to a bowl or plate, top w/ crumbled bacon, freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and a squeeze of lemon juice.  **Heaven!!



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