Prep. Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
seasonal RECIPES for those who love to EAT
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2 lbs. Fresh Manila or littleneck clams
1 lb. Linguini pasta
4 tbsp. Salted butter
3 to 4 cloves Fresh garlic; minced
3/4 c. Dry white wine
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c. Fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley; minced finely
1 Fresh lemon
1. Sort through the clams and discard the ones with broken shells or that have opened already. Fill a large bowl (or your sink) with enough cool water to fully cover the clams. Let the clams stand in the water for at least 20 minutes without disturbing them.
Note: I can almost hear the chorus of voices asking the question I had the first time I made clams: Why the heck am I letting 2 pounds of clams swim around in my sink for half an hour?? Here’s why: Clams spend most of their lives buried in the silt and sand of salt-water bays and inlets. They are also filter-feeders, meaning they eat by drawing sea water into their shells, filtering out the plankton and then expelling the water again. The end result is that clams often have a small (or not so small) amount of silt or sand inside their shells when they are harvested. Letting them sit undisturbed in cool water for 20 to 30 minutes allows them to filter clean water through and essentially “spit out” any silt or sand. This helps ensure that your clams don’t have a gritty texture, and keeps the sand out of your dinner.
2. Bring a large pot of water to boil; add a few tablespoons of sea salt to the pot.
3. Once the clams have rested in the water, gently transfer them to another bowl, trying not to stir up any silt that may have collected at the bottom of the water.
4. Add the linguini to the pot of water and cook according to the package directions.
5. While the linguini cooks, melt the butter in a large, straight-sided skillet with a lit. Add the garlic and sauté over medium high heat for about 3 minutes, until garlic just begins to brown. Stir in the white wine and heat for about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium and gently add the clams to the pan, being careful not to crack the shells by dumping them together.
6. Cover the pan and let cook, undisturbed, for 5 to 7 minutes. Clams are done when the shells have opened.
7. Drain the linguini, reserving about ½ cup of the pasta water. Divide evenly among four wide, low bowls.
8. Using a slotted spoon, distribute the clams evenly among the four bowls. Discard any that have not opened. Stir the pasta water into the remaining sauce in the bottom of the skillet, season with pepper, and then pour evenly over the four bowls. Top with the chopped parsley and serve immediately with wedges of lemon.
Sometimes the classics are the best. Yes, there are lots of things one can do with clams, and we’ll no doubt get to many of them eventually, since clams are delicious. But I have to admit that every time I think about making clams I realize that my favorite still is the simple, delicious combination of butter, garlic and white wine. If you want to lighten this a bit, you can cut out the pasta and just serve the clams in their broth with slices of crusty French bread for dipping. Whatever you do, be sure to clean your clams before you cook them! (See Note, below, for why.)