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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 two tablespoons of salt and the pasta.
In a large skillet heat 3 Tbsp 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 using 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 Tbsp 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 (7 ounce) jar of baby Italian clams. Instructions are included for this route as well.
Food images and recipe © Christian Leue. Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org