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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Linguine with Clams & Pancetta

I am a huge fan of linguine and clam sauce, and have been since I was a child. I just love the saltiness and fishiness of the clams combined with comforting pasta. But, let's face it, the dish usually falls far short of "gourmet". Well, not the case with this recipe. After trying out literally dozens of variations on this dish, I have developed this recipe that takes an old classic to the next level. When making this dish, focus less on the exact measurements and more on the technique and you will end up with a phenomenal version of an old stand-by.

For this dish, I used cockles, but Little Neck clams will work wonderfully as well. Just get whatever looks better at your fish market that day. It's a better bet to make substitutions if quality and freshness would otherwise be sacrificed. I picked up the cockles, which were harvested in the great neighboring state of New Jersey, because my fish monger
recommended them. The pancetta, which is free of any antibiotics and hormones, also comes from New Jersey.

Linguine with Clams & Pancetta

2-3 servings

1/2 lb organic linquine

1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 oz pancetta, small dice
1/2 shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1 tablespoon butter
1/4 c. dry white wine
1 1/2 lb cockles, scrubbed
handful fresh parsley, chopped

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large pan over med-high heat and saute the pancetta and shallot for a few minutes until the pancetta is starting to become crispy and the shallot has softened. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and saute for another minute or until the garlic is just starting to become fragrant. Add the butter, which lowers the temperature of the mixture. When the butter is melted and combined with all the other good stuff in the pan, add in the white wine. At this point you want to drop the linguine into the pot of salted boiling water. Add the cockles into the pan with the pancetta shallot mixture and cook until the shells have sprung open. When the linguine is almost done, carefully pull the linguine out of the boiling water with tongs and slosh it into the pan with the cockles (it is encouraged to bring some of the starchy, salty water along with the pasta into the pan). Toss and combine the pasta in with the cockles for a couple of minutes to allow it to absorb the flavor of the sauce, adding a little more of the pasta cooking liquid if it looks a little dry. Discard any clams that remained shut. Taste and adjust seasoning and garnish with parsley.

1 comment:

  1. The linguine with clams and pancetta was delicious!! I make linguine and clam sauce alot, and the pancetta adds a different flavor. Very good. I did use one large shallot and more wine than the recipe called for. This is a keeper!