Linguine w/ clams, chives and jalepeno
Linguine with white clam sauce is a classic that your neighborhood red sauce joint should never mess up. Yet the dish does often fall short even in fancier places, with rubbery clams, soggy pasta or unbalanced seasonings. This recipe is adapted from How to Cook Everything, which means follow it and you can’t go too wrong. The variations are mine — celery, chives and jalepeno. It came out nice, with a sour garlicky broth and a little brightness from the fresh herbs. The worst thing you can do is overcook the clams. Five minutes is perfect — three first thing, two at the end mixed with pasta and broth. Remember never to store clams under water or in a plastic bag — just leave loose in a bowl in your fridge for up to a day or two before cooking. Clams are very sandy and salty, so do be sure to use several rinses and to undersalt your broth at first.
6 to 8 oz dry linguine (I like any whole-wheat type made in Italy, or Lidia’s brand)
15 littleneck clams
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 stalks celery, washed, minced and dried
2 jalepeno or other hot pepper, washed and dried
1 small bunch chives, rinsed and chopped
1 small bunch cilantro, rinsed and chopped
.5 cup cheap dry white wine (perfect use for two buck chuck)
salt + pepper
Set soup pot of salted water to boil.
Place clams into a large bowl, and scrub one by one under cold running water. Now carefully dump clams into a colandar. Clams are clean when water runs clear, without leaving sand stuck to the bowl. Keep washing clams as needed, and set aside in bowl, without water.
Puree chives and cilantro in a mini chopper.
Now bring wine to rolling boil in a large saute pan. Add clams carefully, cover and cook for about three minutes, until several clams start to open. Strain clams through a fine mesh colander, catching wine broth in a sauce pan. Return clams to the bowl. Bring wine to a rolling boil in the sauce pan, and then lower to simmer. Stir in puree of chives and cilantro.
Meanwhile, dry and warm the saute pan. Warm olive oil and add garlic, cilantro and celery. Add salt and pepper (not too generously — clams are salty). Saute for about 10 minutes, until garlic is very soft. Stir in wine with herb mix and leave on low flame.
Cook pasta about five minutes, until very al dente. Drain and add to saute pan. Stir to coat and cook about two more minutes. Add clams, cover and cook about two more minutes, until clams are very warm.
Serve immediately, distributing pasta, broth and clams well in each bowl. It is okay if all clams do not open — just pry open with a butter knife over your bowl. The clams will release extra broth as they open.