Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pasta with Clams

The day I made this pasta, we were going to have leftovers for dinner.  That plan went out the window when I read a passage from Heat.  Bill Buford (the author) described how to make the clam pasta from Mario Batali's Babbo.  It sounded fantastic and I just had to make it!

I stopped at the market on the way home to pick up some clams only to find out I didn't have enough long noodles.  Instead of heading back out to the store I just whipped up some fresh pasta.  Fresh pasta doesn't take very long to cook (3-4 minutes) so keep that in mind if you decide to make some (the recipe below mentions 6.5 minutes for dried pasta).

This dinner was really easy to throw together and it tasted amazing!  The clam, porky, and buttery flavors were so good together.  I will definitely make this again.

Pasta with Clams
Adapted from Babbo as described in Heat
Serves about 3

2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
red pepper flakes
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 oz pancetta (I used 2 slices of bacon), chopped
3 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup dry white wine (such as sauvignon blanc or an un-oaked chardonnay)
6 oz linguine or fettucini
2 dozen clams, soaked and scrubbed and kept cool until ready to be cooked
Parsley, chopped (optional)
Baguette, for sopping up the juices

Boil some salted water for the pasta (it should taste like sea water).  While the water is heating up, heat a pan to medium-high and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  When the oil gets hot, add the garlic, red pepper flakes, onion and pancetta.  When the onions get soft, add the butter and wine.  Remove from heat until the pasta water is boiling.

Put the pasta in the boiling water.  Turn the pan's burner up to high, put the pan back on and add the clams to the pan and cover it.  The objective is to cook them fast, the clams will open in 3-5 minutes.  Remove cover and discard any clams that have not opened.  Swirl the contents of the pan to mix the clam juices and the buttery, porky, onion mixture.  

After six and a half minutes in the water, the pasta will be ready.  Use tongs to pull the pasta out and add it to the clam mixture.  It's okay that some of the pasta water comes along too, this will help make a nice sauce.  Swirl everything around so the pasta gets coated with the clam mixture.  If it looks too dry, add a little more pasta water; if it's too wet, pour some out.  Let the whole thing cook away for another half minute or so, swirling until the sauce streaks across the bottom of the pan, splash with olive oil and sprinkle with parsley.

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