Linguine with clam sauce is a pretty basic Italian recipe and I’ve been making my mom’s for years. Somewhere along the line someone in my family thought it was easier and just as tasty to use canned clams so that’s how I learned to make it. Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious but looking at the canned clams just grossed me out. I loved seeing linguine with fresh clams and I was on a mission to make it. The only problem was that I was freaked out about cooking with fresh clams because I knew people could get sick from eating shellfish. After seeing Anne Burrell prepare the dish on TV and go over how to clean clams I was confident it was something I could handle.
Since I’m a huge fan of Fine Cooking because I’ve never made one of their recipes that I didn’t like, I went with a linguine recipe from The Best of Fine Cooking – Real Italian issue. It was surprisingly simple and the best linguine with clam sauce that I have ever had (sorry Mom!). This recipe is definitely a keeper, and since linguine with clams is one of my husband’s favorite dishes, I think I’ll be making this again soon.
1 lemon [I like it lemony so I added 1 more lemon]
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3/4 lb. dried linguine
1/4 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
2 lb. small clams (I like littlenecks), rinsed and scrubbed to remove grit
1/3 cup dry white wine [I like wine too so I used about 1/2 cup of wine]
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley; more for garnish
Finish cooking the linguine until it’s just tender, about 10 minutes total. Drain and add to the clams. Raise the heat to high and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, tossing gently. Stir in the 1/2 cup parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice (about 1 Tbs.). Add more salt, pepper or lemon juice to taste. Serve immediatly, topped with a drizzle of the reserved lemon-garlic oil and more parsley.
Put a large pot of salted water on to boil.
Peel five 1-inch-wide strips of zest from the lemon with a peeler. Cut the lemon in half for juicing later.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and lemon strips and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the garlic starts to brown around the edges, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and use a fork to pick out and discard the lemon strips. Transfer a little more than 1/4 cup of the oil (without the garlic) to a small bowl.
Put the pasta in the water:
Raise the heat under the skillet to high and add the chile flakes and the clams. Cook the clams for 1 minute, shaking the pan. Pour in the wine and cook for 1 minute. Cover the pan and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until all the clam shells open, 3 to 5 minutes.
Finish cooking the linguine until it’s just tender, about 10 minutes total. Drain and add to the clams. Raise the heat to high and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, tossing gently. Stir in the 1/2 cup parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice (about 1 Tbs.). Add more salt, pepper or lemon juice to taste. Serve immediately, topped with a drizzle of the reserved lemon-garlic oil and more parsley. [I skipped adding extra oil and just sprinkled some fresh parsley on top].