I'm not a trained chef nor have I ever worked in a kitchen. I'm just a girl who likes to eat. With that said, if I can do it, you most certainly can. So grab a glass of vino, put on an apron, and turn up the MVY Radio, ‘cause we're making linguini with white clam sauce!
In true BISCo form, I am paying that tutorial forward -- first to my husband (and guinea pig) Dan, and now onto you… BISCo blog readers.
If, after reading this, you're left with one thing, let it be this… be organized. Always read a recipe from start to finish before doing anything! You don’t want to be halfway through a recipe when you realize you don’t have a form spring pan or a BBQ. Next up -- have all your ingredients at the ready. AKA, set up a “mies en plas,” which means “putting in place." Basically, it's a fancy way of saying "lay out all ingredients and be prepped to go." For example, if your recipe calls for ½ cup diced onions, dice those suckers up and put them into a little dish so that you can add them with ease -- like a Food Network star -- when the time comes. These two tips may take a few minutes up front, but Lord do they save time (and stress) in the end.
So as I was saying… I was going to teach Dan to make linguine with white clam sauce (LWCS) because anyone knows that you've only really mastered something when you can teach it to someone else. First, we started by setting up our mies en plas. Next, we got to shucking the clams. The recipe calls for 28 littleneck clams, but I only asked for 24 in the fish market, so, while those 4 little fellas will be missed, clams aren’t really something you can borrow from a neighbor. For you first time shuckers (is that a word?), I'll be honest -- shucking a clam isn’t all that easy. Lucky for us, we were using them for clam sauce and not serving them on the half shell. So, what I'm saying is that we could pretty much mangle them up during our journey to get to the good stuff. We were careful to open the clams over a fine strainer to reserve the juice for the sauce. Dan started to get the hang of it with the help of his fancy glove and a little muscle. A few pointers: if a clam is not closed tight, toss it. If a clam is orange or yellow, that's okay.
Once the clams were shucked and minced, we got our water to a boil and tossed in one pound of linguini. While that was cooking, we sautéed the garlic in olive oil and added the clams. Once the clams were cooked through, we added the white wine and the reserved clam juice. We waited a few minutes for this to cook down and then placed four unopened clams into the pan and slapped on the lid. Within a few minutes, these guys opened up on their own… don’tcha love when things are so easy? After straining the pasta, we added half of the clam sauce to the pasta and used the rest to pour on top of our (oversized) servings. Two clams (in shells) were added to each of our plates, making us feel like we were in a restaurant. A loaf of warm, crusty bread and a good glass of white wine brought it all full circle.
P. S. Dan is still in shock that he opened a clam and made an awesome dinner.
Black Dog Linguine with White Clam Sauce
28 littleneck clams, scrubbed
7 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 small hot chilis (optional)
½ cup dry white wine
freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 pound linguine
1 tablespoon salt
1. Bring six quarts of water to a rolling boil and add salt.
2. Open 24 o f the clams over a bowl with a sieve to strain the clam liquid. Save 4 clams for garnish. Set the stained liquid aside and chop the clams to a mince.
3. Add the linguine to boiling water. The clam sauce should take the same length of time to cook as the linguine.
4. Saute the minced garlic in the olive oil over high heat, being careful not to burn it. Add the minced chilis if you like.
5. Add the minced clams and sauté to heat through, then add the black pepper and white wine. Now add the reserved clam liquid.
6. Open the last four clams (without detaching the clams from their shells) and toss them into the sauce.
7. Add the parsley and basil. Lower the heat to medium.
8. When the linguine is al dente, drain it and toss it with about half of the sauce.
9. Divide the pasta onto four plates, add the remaining sauce, and garnish each plate with one of the whole clams.