May 5, 2008

linguine with clams in broth

On Saturday night I hosted a dinner party for my friend Jenny. She celebrated a big birthday the week before while I was away and I missed her party, so I wanted to do something for her. I told her to invite some friends and I would do all the cooking as a gift.

I thought I would make homemade pasta. The last time I did it was for Thanksgiving when I made tortellini di zucca --pumpkin stuffed tortellini with butter and sage. It had been way too long. So I broke out the pasta machine having recently been inspired by Claudia's unbelievably good spaghetti with clams, by way of Thomas Keller.

I decided to try my own linguine with clams. For the pasta, I combined Claudia and Tom's with my old trusty Marcella Hazan's Classic Italian Cooking recipe. I know a thing or two about making pasta and Claudia's was super good, but for my money Marcella is the hands down expert on old school Italian and I had to go to the source.

I used about 3 cups of flour (2+ cups a.p. and almost 1 of semolina because I wanted that particular texture, but usually I don't use semolina), 1 whole egg and 6 yolks. The ratio of flour to yolks is up for debate, but if you want that eggy, bright yellow color and smooth texture, the more yolks the better. Marcella says 2 whole eggs for every 1 3/4 c. flour.

I also added a drop of milk and a few glugs of olive oil --not recommended by the Master but this dough was really dry at first. After a solid 10 min. of kneading (and a little cussing) it came together just like it should.

I wrapped it and let it rest for about 15 min. before cutting it into sections, folding each one and putting it through the machine a couple of times.

After drying for a bit, but not too long or it will break in the rollers, I put it through the attachment for wide, flat cut pasta. I guess it was technically fettuccine, not linguine, but who said anything about a pasta quiz? Don't even get me started. In Italy I have seen pasta of countless shapes and sizes with names like "strozzapreti" ('strangle the priest") so don't slag me off. My machine has only two settings.

My sauce was simple and inspired by something I saw in bon appetite this month--just a broth really, with sauted onions and garlic in butter and olive oil, a couple of chopped tomatoes and lots of white wine and 1 cup of water. This simmers for 20 min. and then you can turn off the heat and finish when ready to cook the clams, so this can be done ahead of time.

When you add the clams, also add a couple of pinches of red pepper flakes, 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsely, 1/4 c chopped fresh oregano and thyme. I cooked the pasta in the same broth after lifting out the clams and setting them aside. Then I threw them back in with the pasta to heat them again and that was it. Just be sure and serve it up with extra fresh parsley and some toasty warm bread for soaking up the broth.

Now, don't get me wrong, the spaghetti with clams and a ton of butter that I had chez Claudia was rich and dreamy and soooooo delicious and I would love to eat it again someday. But I was cooking for a crowd of people-- most of them unknown-- and I didn't want to unintentionally cause someone to have a coronary at my house due to the insane amounts of butter AND yolks I'd be serving in this dish.

This way, I reasoned, I could kill them with the dessert, a dessert so good I can hardly wait to tell you about it... in my next post. It's too good to leave til the end at the end of long day, so stay tuned.


  1. Hey Joy,
    That looks absolutely magnificent!
    We're doing clams here this week, and this is what I'm going to do!

  2. Looks delicious, love that type of broth based sauce; can't wait to see dessert