My favorite dish is linguini and clams. This was family meal in the first restaurant I worked, when I was 16 and learning how to cook. This version of linguini and clams, aka vongole, is something different than most recipes you'll find online. It's not traditional in the traditional sense. This is designed to feed line cooks quickly. It's made to slurp up while sitting on a milk crate. It's about flavor, efficiency, and accessibility. Its preparation and consumption feels more Asian than it does Italian. It's got a lot of liquid, though not enough to be considered a soup. A good zuppa de pesce should have a lot broth, and this is no different. You should drink the clam sauce afterwards. If you don't, I won't be able to look at you. This dish also celebrates parsley, an overlooked ingredient as far as flavor is concerned. Parsley almost always comes in second to basil, but I actually prefer its earthy subtlety. There's shallot - for no other reason than it was always on the saute station. Whole clams are often considered to be preferred in vongole, but you won't need them here. You will not be sifting out shells from your pasta bowl. It also breaks a cardinal rule made up by some asshole that you can't put cheese on seafood. You absolutely can, and Parmigiano-Reggiano belongs on this dish.
This version of linguini and clams is about a brief few moments of pleasure, then getting back to work (usually drinking). I've had linguine and clams a few hundred times, and I don't think I've ever sat down once while eating it. Always standing. Usually gesturing or making a fool of myself. This recipe has served two. It's served four, and five. It's a big pot of shareable noodles. It's a compelling argument for store bought pasta, canned clams, and the holy trinity of Italian American restaurant soffrito - garlic, shallot, and crushed red pepper.
7 cloves garlic diced
1 large shallot diced
2 tbsp crushed red pepper
1 bushel of flat leaf parsley rough chopped
1 large lemon
2 cups white wine
4 tablespoons butter
1 lb. De Ceccco Linguine
30 - 35 ounces of canned clams in juice
(Cape Cod brand is preferred, just anything but bumble bee)
Put a large pot or dutch oven (enough to fit an entire package of pasta) on medium heat. Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil, then your garlic and shallot shortly after. Cook both until softened. Now add your crushed red pepper. Stir and cook until golden and aromatic. Now add 2 cups of white wine, preferably a dry Chardonnay. Lots of people say don't use cheap wine. I respond, "Who can afford to use expensive wine on anything other than getting drunk?" A 10 dollar bottle will do. Reduce your white wine by half. Get a waft of the liquid and its delicious bits of garlic, shallot, and pepper floating around. Now add the clam juice, only the juice, from your canned clams. Cook for another 10 minutes on medium to medium high heat, being careful not to boil.
In a separate pot, bring a heavily salted pot of water to boil. Boxed linguine is preferred here. In my opinion, an al dente De Cecco noodle is a thing of beauty. The factory made pasta is built to withstand the elements of a seafood dish more than a frail, homemade pasta. Cook your pasta a notch under al dente (6 minutes or less). Transfer your linguine to the pot of clam sauce, and stir. Right now you are infusing the pasta with the clam sauce mixture as it finishes cooking. Now add the chopped clams. Add the chopped parsley. Add 4 tablespoons of butter. Stir for a minute. Now take off the heat and squeeze a lemon. Plate with more fresh parsley and grated Parmigiano Reggiano. You did it.