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Clam Sauce for pasta


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I stopped in at my local fish shop to get some clams (Maine steamer/softshell) so I could steam a few for supper, but Kendall's wife was feeling generous and gave me almost twice as many as I wanted (and paid for :smile:) so now I have many more clams than I'll eat tonight.

I'll cook them all tonight and shuck out what I don't eat so I can make a spaghetti/pasta clam sauce tomorrow for supper. I usually just use onions and garlic sautéed in some EVOO/butter and toss in some flat leaf parsley with the clams and that's it.

Any ideas to do something else will be appreciated - but no exotic ingredients please. This is the coast of Maine. :wink:

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Throw a little white wine and clam juice in with the rest of what you mentioned and you've got some great clam sauce for linguini.

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I like to start with olive oil with some garlic and crushed red pepper, then add some white wine, then the clams (shucked with juice or in the shell or bot) and steam (at this point some fillets of canned tomato can be a nice addition too), then some parsley, salt, then add long pasta. You can leave out some of those ingredients and it will still be delicious.

nunc est bibendum...

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I find the key is to cook the pasta is as little water as you can get away with and then to throw in some of the pasta cooking water to bind the sauce. The conventionally "correct" way to cook pasta produces marginally better pasta but at the expense of diluting the cooking water to the point where there's not enough starch to give that silky texture.

PS: I am a guy.

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I like to start with olive oil with some garlic and crushed red pepper, then add some white wine, then the clams (shucked with juice or in the shell or bot) and steam (at this point some fillets of canned tomato can be a nice addition too), then some parsley, salt, then add long pasta. You can leave out some of those ingredients and it will still be delicious.

That's how I do it, too. Sometimes I'll add lemon juice instead of the white wine, or a few drops of lemon juice TO the white wine. If I need more sauce, I add some of the pasta cooking water. Make sure there's plenty of salt.

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Half olive oil, half butter, sweat shallots and garlic for a minute or two (just so the garlic doesn't brown), white wine, reduce, clams in shell and clam juice, simmer until clams open, add chopped clams, basil (and parsley) a good amount of coarse black pepper, and adjust seasoning (considering a final addition of capers in the next step). Kill the heat.

Toss sauce with slightly undercooked linguini in a pan for each serving. Toss in some capers. Turn out into a bowl and shave parm on top. Serve with warm crusty bread and white wine.

Edited by ScoopKW (log)

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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Thanks for the replies and suggestions. Here's what I'll try.

Onions, then garlic, in EVVO and butter. (Don't have any shallots, but the onions and garlic were pulled from the garden a few weeks a go. I'll probably go overboard with the garlic as it's quite good.)

Then white wine and reduce a bit. Next a little clam broth from steaming the clams last night, followed by addition of clams.

I'll follow Shalmanese' suggestion of not much water cooking the pasta and put in some of the water to see how that works. About the same time I'll add kernels of corn from the extra ear I steamed last night unless someone thinks that won't work. I think it will be good with the clams.

Finally, I'll add the cooked spaghetti and toss with fresh cut flat leaf parsley. Uh ooh. Just checked and there's not much De Cecco left...

Now off to town to pick up some white wine and whatever brand of spaghetti is available at the local supermarket. Probably Prince... :sad:

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About the same time I'll add kernels of corn from the extra ear I steamed last night unless someone thinks that won't work. I think it will be good with the clams.

Corn works fine with clams in a clam bake. But I don't think it will work at all with an Italian-American white clam sauce. I'd skip the corn.

EDIT -- "Toss sauce with slightly undercooked linguini in a pan." I didn't mention that the pan should be on a medium-low flame, and the idea is to cook the slightly undercooked pasta to al dente with the sauce. Usually a minute per serving. Then reload pasta and sauce and repeat for each guest.

EDIT x2 -- I cannot suggest strongly enough that you try and find some basil to go along with your parsley. If I didn't have basil, I wouldn't make this dish. It's just as important as the clams. I'm also of the mind that it's hard to overdo the basil. When I make four servings, I add something on the order of 1/2 cup of minced basil.

Edited by ScoopKW (log)

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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After I wrote my last post and on the way in town I decided the corn wouldn't work. Not because it won't work with the clams, but because it won't work with the pasta.

I planned on using a medium low flame for tossing the sauce and linguini. And decided to use what little De Cecco I have left and not use the Barilla that I just picked up. That'll mean having sauce left over and doing something else with it. Don't know how well it would freeze.

No basil. Don't have any and don't really care for it. Might try the crushed red pepper Alcuin suggested. See what happens. I have lots of oregano, but think I'll stick with parsley.

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It freezes just fine -- after all, the fat content is through the ceiling if you make it right.

No basil? Don't care for basil? I don't even know what to say. If I could have only one herb for the rest of my life, I wouldn't even have to think about it.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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Add me to those who do not love basil and cannot see what all the fuss is about with pesto. Yech. I just reread my first post on this thread and I meant to suggest that you use your usual and try the clam juice or clamato with it in lieu of wine and squeeze some lemon over it, as well. I also don't like to cook with wine, either, since one of my boys gripes whenever I do.

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Well I have to say I don't love basil with my linguine and clams. It's parsley all day for me. I do love basil though: I'll just deploy some whole leaves in the salad alongside my pasta with clam sauce.

nunc est bibendum...

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Wow...

Perhaps the fact I've been making linguini with heavily-basil'd clam sauce my entire life (it was the third dish I learned to make, behind french toast and omelettes) has skewed my perspective. No basil? May as well skip the clams, pasta, garlic and olive oil.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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That makes sense. I have to say I haven't ever made this dish and used basil: always parsley. Really I could see using basil easily or even marjoram. But this is one of those elemental dishes I learned in time immemorial, so I just can't switch over.

nunc est bibendum...

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Well, I made it and it turned out okay. Pretty good actually. And No Basil. :laugh:

I made it pretty much as in my post #10 above - without the corn. And I ended up adding some oregano I grew and dried last year. Changes I'd make the next time would be no butter and all EVVO, more garlic even though I used quite a lot this time, more oregano, and less to no parsley - even though I really like parsley.

Thanks for all the suggestions. :smile:

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After posting the above I remembered I'd added dipping butter, leftover from previous night's steamed clams, to the finished and tossed sauce and linguine. I'd meant to use it with the EVVO at the beginning, but used fresh butter instead. When I remembered the leftover butter in the fridge, I thoughtlessly added it to the finished dish.

And then thoughtlessly wrote above that I wouldn't use butter with the EVVO next time. It was the butter added at the end that put things over the top and I will be using butter with EVVO the next time. The finished clam sauce (with plenty of clams) was actually quite delicious. Sorry for the confusion.

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