Monday, May 31, 2010

Clam Booty

My excitement for living in the northwest ebbs and flows. Relentless drizzle and high clouds can start to feel oppressive, and the next thing you know the sun is out—and so is everyone in Seattle.
Despite the 2 ½ days of wet and gray we were dealt this Memorial Day weekend, I am feeling quite thrilled about my northwest home.

I went clamming on Sunday. We mucked around in the mud, dug up a bounty of clams, and didn’t worry much about the rain.

But more importantly, the trip wouldn’t have been as enjoyable and fruitful without a sunny group of amazing northwesterners who provided the following: info on the rules of clamming responsibly, hot tips on where to go, instruction on how to locate and dig up the little buggers, tools for digging, use of a big car to carry the lot of us, info about clam varieties, recipes, snacks, and best of all, really good company.

We took the ferry and drove through a web of towns that all start with the word “Port.” We harvested little neck, horse, manila and soft shell clams, and cockles. Then we drove home and ate them—three ways.

Making three different clam recipes might have been overkill, but we were so excited about our clam booty that it was hard to avoid. We had creamy chowder with bacon, thyme and potatoes; steamed clams with vermouth, garlic and serrano peppers; and linguine with basil and tomatoes. All three recipes reminded me of something I had learned in Bill Buford’s Heat: the clam meat is tasty, but it’s the juice they spit out that really makes a dish full and flavorful.

Thanks northwest, and all you amazing northwesterners!

Ann and Larry’s Clam Linguine
3 lbs clams
¼ cup butter
2 T olive oil
6 cloves garlic, smashed
2 onions chopped
2 medium tomatoes, cored, chopped
3 cups dry white wine
1 cup water
1/3 cup sliced fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh oregano
2 pinches of red pepper
8 ounces linguine

  • Melt butter with olive in heavy large pot. Add onions and cook until soft, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Add tomatoes and cook until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.
  • Add white wine and 1 cup water and bring to a boil; reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 20 minutes until flavors blend. Broth can be made one day ahead.
  • Bring broth to boil and add clams. Cover and cook until clams open (3-5 minutes). Transfer clams to large bowl and tent with foil to keep warm.
  • Stir basil, parsley, oregano and crushed red pepper into the broth and add linguine. Boil until pasta is tender. Return clams with any juices to pot. Cover and simmer until clams are heated through.


cpircb said...

OK. This reads/feels wonderful. However, if I just have 30 clams and two people, what would you suggest?

pleasantcompany said...

Hard to choose....but there is something really wonderful about simple steamed clams. The recipe we used was inspired by one from Mario Batali: a little fresh chili, vermouth, white wine, garlic, fresh parsley, red onion, tiny bit of bacon....I think that's it. And no salt! The clams did that job for us.