Have I told you lately how much I love, love, love clams? I’m fairly certain I have cooked them just about any way possible. See links below to some of my favorite clam dishes. However, last evening, I forgot that I had yet to make Linguine with Red Clam Sauce. Of course, I had to take on a more non-traditional approach by adding hot Italian sausage from Johnsonville, like I do in my Clams with Sausage. Yes, you can leave out the sausage if you so desire. Just let me tell you, I will be making this recipe over and over again!
Let’s talk portions. I don’t know about you, but the more clams, the better. I would base this dish on ensuring that each person gets about 10 to 12 clams. That’s just me, but I think you can never have too many clams. Yes, you can use canned clams. However, I would prefer you not. So, if fresh clams are available in your area, use them. Local to Charlotte? Grab your littleneck or middleneck clams from The Carolina Meat & Fish Co.
CLEAN THE CLAMS
The first step to ensure that any clam dish, especially this Linguine with Red Clam Sauce, comes out perfectly is to clean and rinse your clams. There are so many methods out there. In my opinion, I prefer soaking mine in a mixture of cold water and flour. Be sure to discard any clams that are open prior to soaking. Soak for about 10 minutes prior to use. The clams will ingest the flour and spit it out along with any dirt or grit lurking inside its shell.
Rinse well. Unless you are pulling them out of the water yourself, there is probably no need to scrub them. A nice rinse will suffice. You can do this ahead of time. Just be sure to place the clams back into the fridge until you are ready to cook them.
HOW TO PREPARE THE LINGUINE WITH RED CLAM SAUCE
Start a big pot of water boiling for the pasta. You kind of want to time everything perfectly so that you can use part of the pasta water in your sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large pot. This enameled cast iron pot from Lodge was perfect for this dish. If you have read any of my other blogs, you know that anytime I have a recipe that calls for hot sausage, I always use the sausage in its casings. I just think it has more flavor than bulk once the casings are removed.
Remove sausage from casings. Break apart in pot and brown. Once the sausage is almost fully-cooked and browned, add in the minced garlic and shallots. Cook for about a minute or so. Do NOT brown. Drop pasta in boiling water. Be sure to generously salt the pasta water.
Sprinkle in the crushed red pepper. Deglaze with the white wine. With a wooden spoon, scrape any browned bits from the bottom. Reduce the liquid by half. Add in the clam juice. Reduce just a bit more. Pour in the marinara sauce. Use a favorite jarred marinara, or make your own. It’s totally up to you. For my convenience, and because it tastes amazing, I used a jarred marinara sauce from Delallo.
The pasta should be releasing its starch. Add a ladle or two of the pasta water to the pot of sauce. Keep in mind, you will be steaming the clams in this sauce, so you do not want the sauce too thick.
Bring the pot to a boil. Add in the rinsed clams. Place lid to allow the clams to steam open. Have a bowl ready to place clams as they open. I do this to ensure that the clams do not over cook and become rubbery. As soon as the clams open up, take them out and reserve in bowl.
TO FINISH AND SERVE THE LINGUINE WITH RED CLAM SAUCE
Once all clams have opened (be sure to discard any clams that do not open) and been removed from pot, give the sauce a little taste. I did not need to add salt. The water from the pasta was salty enough. Reduce heat. Stir in a few tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley. Toss in the pasta either directly from the pot, or strainer. If you had to strain your pasta, never rinse. Coat with the sauce. Add about half of the clams back to the pot.
Find a huge platter, or bowl. With tongs, remove the pasta and clams from the pot. Place the remaining reserved clams on top of pasta. Spoon any liquid remaining in pot on top of clams to heat up. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and lemon wedges. Serve the Linguine with Red Clam Sauce immediately with crusty bread. ENJOY!
As an alternative, ditch the pasta and serve these clams as an appetizer!
Love clams as much as I do? Check out more of my amazing recipes using these beauties from the sea!