If a man cannot or will not cook, he is not a man. All REAL men – manly men, if you will – know how to cook, and by cook I don’t mean scurry around a studio kitchen yelling “BAM!” and cooking stuff most ordinary chefs don’t cook, like that wretched little Emeril does on his stupid Food Network show. Honestly…what kind of serious chef has his own studio band, complete with an African-American Doc Severinsen? I learned to cook because my mother – God rest her soul – was a superb cook. When I moved out and lived on my own, I had no choice but to teach myself the arcane ways of the kitchen.
The basics are simple: sauté, steam, fry, bake and broil. Anyone willing to master the basics can prepare a decent, delicious, meal that anyone will enjoy.
Today I want to share with you my own recipe for linguine with fresh white clam sauce.
- 3 dozen Littleneck clams, purged for a few hours in cold salt water
- 1 cup whole canned baby clams with broth
- Bottled clam broth
- ½ cup Pinot Grigio or other dry white wine
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1 tsp dry thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbsp sea salt for pasta water
- 1 lb dry linguine
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 anchovy fillets, finely mashed
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ tbsp freshly grated lemon zest
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- ½ cup grated mixed Romano/Parmigiano cheeses
- Fill a shallow pot with white wine and heat to simmering. Add a dozen clams at a time, turning them frequently in the simmering broth. As soon as a clam pops open remove it from the pot and place it in a large bowl. Continue until all of the clams have been cooked. Discard any clams that have not popped open after all the clams have been simmered. Strain the broth to remove sand or bits of shell and transfer broth to a medium size sauce pan. Add broth from baby clams along with bottled clam broth to create at least 2 cups of total broth.
- Add 1 tbsp of finely chopped parsley and 1 teaspoon of thyme along with one bay leaf to the broth. Simmer on very low heat for ten minutes and then remove from heat and cover. Total yield should be two cups of broth. If necessary, add bottled clam juice to obtain two cups of broth.
- Fill a large pot with enough water to cook 1 lb. of pasta and add 2 heaping tbsp of sea salt. Bring to the boil.
- Separate the clams from the shells and discard shells. Reserve the clams and any additional liquid in a bowl. Pour clam juice over the clams to keep them moist and cover bowl with plastic wrap.
- In a large sauce pan over medium heat add olive oil, garlic and mashed anchovy fillets. Saute gently on very low heat for a five minutes until anchovies break apart – do not let the garlic brown.
- Add the clam broth along with the lemon zest, parsley and red pepper flakes. Remove the bay leaf and discard. While stirring briskly, add cheese and stir until the broth thickens somewhat. Remove from heat and keep sauce pan covered until linguine is cooked. Add 1 lb of linguine to the boiling water and cook al dente.
- Place sauce pan over low heat until broth just begins to simmer. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce pan along with the reserved clams. Remove from heat and toss with the sauce for 2 to 3 minutes to thoroughly disperse the clams into the pasta.
- Serve immediately with white wine, garlic bread and a small salad of simple greens with a red wine vinaigrette dressing.