Sunday, October 14, 2012

Carmela Soprano's Linguine with White Clam Sauce - Linguine alle Vongole

The turkey left overs are either all gone or in the freezer.
I mean, enough is enough already.
The budget is still hurting from the holiday dinner.
Time to serve up some more pasta.

Natalie Del Greco's chapter in Artie's The Sopranos Family Cookbook is interesting.
I had always thought Sicily was the source for Italian food in America.
Well, I had Sicilian relatives.
So maybe that affected my knowledge, as well as my dinners.

Natalie's Cooking the Neapolitan Way is an interesting read.
The chapter also has a bit of history:
Pizza started out as peasant food.
Basically a tomato, mozzarella and basil open-face sandwich.
With some garlic and anchovies.

In the 1880s Queen Margherita decided to try it.
a few years ago.
The pizzaiolo left out the garlic and anchovies.
Well, it was for a Queen.
Queen Margherita loved the newly created Pizza Margherita.
And so do a whole lot of folks.

We also have the Neapolitans to thank for take-out pizzas.
In Naples street vendors walk around with metal boxes on their heads.
They still sell hot pizza on the street this way.

Oh, in Naples, they call pasta maccerone (macaroni).
They liked it because it was easy to store and went with everything.
No kidding.

Linguine alle Vongole is a bit more work than the Linguine Aglio Olio recipe.
Oh, start the water for the pasta while you're preparing the clams.
You've been warned.

Just a reminder: Al dente means the pasta is tender yet firm to the bite.
The recipe calls for 1 small peperoncino, crumbled, instead of the crushed red pepper.
If you can get peperoncino, enjoy.

                        Linguine alle Vongole

Serves 6

With a stiff brush scrub under running water
3 pounds small hard-shell clams (littleneck or Manilla, for example)
Toss any clams that are broken or don't close tightly.

Place the clams in a large pot with
1/4 Cup water
Cover the pot.
Turn the heat to medium high.
Cook until the clams begin to open.
Place the opened clams in a bowl and continue to cook the others.
Toss any clams that don't open.
Set the pot aside.  Do NOT drain the liquid.

Over a small bowl to catch the juices, scrape the clams from the shells 
and place them in another bowl.
Add the liquid from the large pot to the juices in the small bowl.
Rinse the clams in the liquid in the small bowl and set aside.
Pour the liquid through a fine sieve or coffee filter into another bowl.

In a 12 inch skillet place
1/2 Cup Extra Virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
a pinch of crushed red pepper
Cook over medium heat until the garlic is golden.
Add about 2/3 of the clam juice.
Cook until the liquid is reduced by half.
Discard the garlic.
Stir in the remaining clam juice and the clams.
Cook 1 minute.

In a large pot place
4 quarts water
salt to taste
Bring to a boil.
1 pound linguine
Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente.
Drain the pasta and place it in the skillet.
Toss the pasta until it is coated.
Cook over high heat 1 minute.
Serve immediately.

Would I make Linguine alle Vongole again?
I live on the prairies.
The clams were a hassle to find.
I ended up using P.E.I. mussels.
And there are easier ways to cook mussels.

One recipe down.  Seventy-five more to go. 

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