There are some good reasons why I chose this dish for you today. One I am still trying to focus on the shellfish categories and it dawned on me no set shellfish recipes would be complete without this recipe. The other is I am trying to build the categories by thinnest first and as I saw it clams it was. So when I set out to do a clam recipe I thought of different ways you can do clams I have done a baked one, a clam fritter one and it dawned on me to do something with steamed clams and to me that just had to be spaghetti in red clam sauce.
This dish is to seafood what pizza is too well pizza. There are a few very traditional Italian pasta dishes and many do feature seafood let’s face it – it has water on three side it is no doubt seafood is going to be a big part of the culinary world in a place surround by water. Now just as Italy is big into seafood so is my home of New England and one of my all-time favorite seafood and shellfish in particular is clams. Many people think first of fried clams but they are wonderful steamed and then used in a red sauce.
Many people don’t know that New England has a pretty big Italian-American population and as such Italian food plays a big part in our cuisine. Also having four kids I am always looking to stretch the family food budget so pasta is a good way to do that and you know my boys love their meat so I need to bring something to that pasta other than just tomatoes or mom is in the dog house. So clams in red sauce to the rescue. Now I leave the clams in the shells to give them something to do other than just shovel it in so that is why mine has them all in the shells. You can by all means remove the shells if you like and just serve the clam meat with the sauce if you prefer.
- 6 dozen cherrystone clams, washed and rinsed
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 1 small yellow onion, sliced
- 4 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 can Carmelina Brands, Italian Whole Peeled Tomatoes in Puree
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ cup Chardonnay
- 2 tablespoons parsley
- ½ teaspoon Double Cut Crushed Red Pepper
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon basil
- ⅔ cup water, for steaming
- Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
- Fresh basil chopped fine to garnish
- Olive oil as needed
- In a large stockpot add the water and chardonnay and bring it to a boil, to this add your clams place a lid on it and cook around two minutes or until the clams fully open. Remove your clams to a large bowl and cover loosely with foil to keep them warm. Pour the liquid into a container for use later.
- In the same stockpot fill with 2 quarts salted water and bring it to a rapid boil add a few drops of oil and cook the pasta to the manufactures directions until al dente.
- Drain and return it to the stockpot and put the lid on to keep it warm.
- In a large skillet on a medium heat add some olive oil and the onion and garlic and sauté until lightly caramelized add the retained liquid and allow to come to a simmer to this add the canned tomatoes and herbs. Season this further with salt and fresh cracked pepper if you like your clam sauce spice go heavy on the black pepper.
- Allow to simmer for fifteen minutes so the tomatoes sauce thickens a bit and the seasoning melds well together add the clams and simmer just long enough to warm everything.
- Divide the pasta among serving plates and then ladle the sauce and clams over this.
- Garnish with additional basil and serve immediately.
One of the reasons pasta with red clam sauce is so popular is it is a powerful presentation item. It is also a wonderful dish to turn the heat up in a more basic way with the use of black pepper instead of many of the red or chili peppers used in more traditional spicy food. Black pepper when used in large amounts delivers a wonderful amount of heat and is a very big flavor enhancer. Many people don’t think of spicing dishes up with this we think of it as just that thing that goes with salt but there is a reason it is on every restaurant table along with the salt it is one of the most basic of seasonings but not one people reach for first when thinking spicy. Try notching it up a bit in this recipe it is wonderful.
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