Linguine with Red Clam Sauce!
White Clam Sauce actually is the classic, but many people prefer Red Clam Sauce. Even so, a traditional Italian White Clam Sauce has to be made before it can be turned into a Red Clam Sauce!
A classic White Clam Sauce is made with olive oil, sliced garlic, lemon juice, white wine, parsley, seasoning, fresh clams and their own clam juices. Classic White Clam Sauce is always made "a la minute" and the olive oil partially emulsifies with the lemon and clam juice when made properly. The flavors are clean and bright with fresh clam flavor.
Of course there is another White Clam Sauce variation that is not worth mentioning, because it is a bastardized recipe that is made at two bit diners and chain restaurants. The sauce is made with canned clams and a milk sauce of some kind. The creamy clam sauce version tastes more like a poorly made chowder and it usually is kept warm in a steam table for an extended length of time. A clam sauce like this is not exactly a gourmet item and it definitely cannot be turned into an authentic Red Clam Sauce.
Clams that are simply stewed in tomato sauce will only taste like clams that are stewed in tomato sauce. Starting with a White Clam Sauce will create the best tasting Red Clam Sauce that you never had! An authentic Italian White Clam Sauce is well balanced, just like the flavor of a classic Salsa di Pomodoro. A classic Italian Tomato Sauce that is not flavored with roasted pork naturally marries with White Clam Sauce.
A Marinara Sauce does not marry quite as well with White Clam Sauce, because the olive oil is not thoroughly incorporated with the tomatoes. Marinara takes about 40 minutes to make and the course hand crushed tomatoes are not milled smooth after cooking. Salsa di Pomodoro requires 4 hours of simmering and this sauce is usually run through a hand turned food mill to create a smoother texture, so the olive oil is thoroughly incorporated.
Salsa di Pomodoro:
Follow the link to the recipe in this website.
Linguine alle Vongole Rosa:
This recipe yields 1 pasta entrée.
Manila, Razor, Little Neck Quahog and Large Neck Quahog Clams are good choices for making clam sauce. Basically the choice of clams should be ones that are tender when raw, so only small to medium size clams should be used. For the recipe photo example, I chose Large Neck Quahog Clams.
The sauce can be made in the same amount of time that it takes to cook the Linguine Pasta al dente (About 10 minutes). This method results in the best texture, but it is necessary to work quickly.
For a little less stress while cooking, the pasta can be cooked al dente then cooled under cold running water ahead of time. The cooled pre-cooked pasta will have to be reheated in boiling water before it is added to the sauce.
Step 1: Thoroughly wash 7 to 9 whole fresh Large Neck Quahog Clams.
*If the clams are extra muddy or sandy, then place them in a container of 1 gallon of water with 2 tablespoons of corn meal for 1 hour. This step will purge any sediment out of the inside of the live clams. Rinse the clams after they are purged.
Step 2: Cook 1 portion of Linguine Pasta in a pot of boiling water over medium high heat till the pasta is al dente.
Cool the pasta under cold running water.
Drain the water off the pasta.
Set the pasta aside till it is needed.
Step 3: Keep a pot of water boiling over medium high heat, so the pasta can be reheated later in the recipe.
Step 4: Heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat.
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Add 2 cloves of thin sliced garlic. (About 1 teaspoon)
Sauté till the garlic turns a golden color.
Step 5: Add the whole large neck clams.
Add 1/2 cup of Italian dry white wine. (Pinot Grigio)
Add 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice.
Add 1/2 cup of water.
Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
Add 1 small pinch of crushed red pepper.
Add 1 pinch of oregano.
Step 6: Cover the saute pan with a lid.
Allow the clams to steam till they open. (About 90 seconds)
*As the clams open, the clam juices will flow into the pan. No flavor is lost when using this method.
Step 7: After the clams open and release their juices, remove the pan from the heat.
Use tongs to pick all but 1 clam out of the thin sauce.
*Leave 1 whole clam and its shell in the pan, so it can be used as a garnish.
Handle each clam one at a time and shake any liquid from the clams back into the pan.
Hold each hot clam with a dry pastry towel and shuck the clam meat onto a cutting board. (Discard the shells.)
Chop the clam meat.
Return the chopped clams to the sauce in the pan. (Scrape any juice on the cutting board back into the pan.)
Step 7: Return the pan to medium heat.
Rapidly simmer and reduce the sauce till about 1/2 cup of liquid remains.
Step 8: Add 1/2 tablespoon of virgin olive oil.
Add 1 cup of the Salsa di Pomodoro.
Add 1 coarse chopped large basil leaf. (optional)
Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced Italian Parsley.
Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
Step 9: Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
Use a pasta net to reheat the Linguine Pasta in the pot of boiling water.
Drain the water off of the pasta.
Step 10: Remove the single whole clam that will be used as a garnish from the sauce and set it aside.
Add the pasta to the Red Clam Sauce.
Toss the sauce and pasta together.
Step 11: Remove the pan from the heat.
Mound the Linguine alle Vongole Rosa on a plate.
Pour any excess sauce over the pasta.
Step 12: Place the reserved cooked whole clam on top of the pasta as a garnish.
Place 1 small Italian Parsley sprig inside the open clam.
Place a thin sliced lemon curl on the parsley inside the clam shell garnish.
Sprinkle 1 pinch of minced Italian Parsley over the pasta.
*Serve with finely grated Parmigiana Cheese on the side. Serve with warm Italian bread or garlic bread on the side.
By cooking the whole clams in the sauce, the clam juices stay in the sauce. The ocean flavor of a fresh clam sauce is very satisfying! The technique of cooking whole clams in the sauce is much better than adding bottled clam juice!