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This clam pasta prep uses the same technique I use for mussels. Cook them uncovered in a single layer in a hot skillet. You still get plenty of juice from the clams, the flavors are concentrated, and they cook evenly. The parsley depends on if you enjoy the bitter flavor or not, it's great with or without. Our chili flakes are the perfect spice to bring out the natural flavor of the clams, you can leave your black pepper in the mill.
1/2 pound dry pasta (bucatini, linguine, etc)
2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup dry, high-acid, white wine (Vermentino, Pigato, etc.)
2 pounds of small in-shell clams or cockles, scrubbed*
a big handful of fresh parsley leaves (optional)
4 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 fresh lemon
Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of sea salt (or 3 tablespoons of lighter and flakier kosher salt) and the pasta.
In a large skillet heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat, briefly sauté the garlic (do not allow it to burn), add the wine, then cook until reduced by half. Remove to a small bowl and return the skillet to the burner. If you only have smaller pans you can use two for the next step.
Once the pasta has a few minutes left to cook, add the clams (and the parsley if using) to the hot skillet(s) in a single layer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the clams have just opened (usually 2-4 minutes tops).
Reserve a small cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta (do not rinse). If you used one large skillet add the pasta to the skillet along with the cooked garlic and wine. If the sauce seems thick add some of the reserved pasta water (the goal is to have a thin sauce that coats everything well).
If you used two skillets then put the pasta pot back on a burner on high, dump the clams in, add the pasta, and mix as above.
Remove to two large plates or shallow bowls and season with freshly ground chili flakes, fresh lemon juice, and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
If substituting jarred clams: First make sure to use only a high quality brand from Italy (I'm found that most other canned clams have very little flavor and can often be rubbery). Add the juice from the clams to the skillet with the wine and reduce. Leave the reduction in the skillet and allow to simmer. Add the clams when you add the cooked pasta. The brand I like is called Vantia and comes in a 9.5oz jar.
* you can also sub one (9.5 ounce) jar of baby Italian clams. Instructions are included for this route as well.
Substitute small cubes of flaky white fish for the clams, dust them with a bit of flour and Breeze N5 before frying them in olive oil until lightly browned. Reduce the amount of olive oil you cook the garlic in to 1 Tbsp and use the rest to cook the fish.
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