This is a great idea for hanging around on the weekends watching games, or casual get togethers, even works for a weeknight meal. America LOVES Chiles, after all it’s one of our indigenous plants. We go crazy for hot sauce, for whole chiles, for all foods made with them in their fresh, cooked, or dried states. America is a CHILE CRAZED nation. From the Americas the rest of the world learned how delicious they are…with a seemingly addictive nature they have regardless of where in the world they are being consumed. Let’s explore Italy (shocker) for a moment, in particular Southern Italy. Chiles are a mainstay in all hot climates and the southern regions of Italy are hotbeds (pun intended) for growing these peppers. Depending on the region they are referred to as PEPERONCINO or DIAVOLiCCHIO .DIAVULLILU, and many others. Just an aside, don’t confuse PEPERONCINO with the Italian-American pickled Vinegar pepper known as PEPPERONCINI as they are 2 very different foods including their spelling.
Basilicata where my paternal Grandpa comes from LOVES the chile pepper in it’s cuisine. Shows up in so many of the regional dishes. We grew up with that tradition which was further cemented by my Dad who grew tons of redhot chiles and dried them every year strung up all over the basement rafters. Dad’s been gone since 2003 but I have the last jar he gave me. It’s my most prized “food” possesion. A pinch of peperoncino is a usual cooking method in COUNTLESS Southern ITalian dishes but sometimes it becomes the dominant flavor as in ARRABBIATA style, or FRA DIAVOLO(more ITalian-American) meaning ANGRY. A colorful way to describe a dish..it’s a popular tomato sauce for pasta. Here I take that southern Italian seafood and chile tradition and elaborate on it. I rarely say this, but certainly adjust the amount of peperoncino that you are using to your taste but if anything spicy is not in your wheelhouse this isn’t the recipe for you. My suggestion for how to serve this is as you would serve a pot of steamers…just the clams…and some good bread.
TIME: 1/2 HOUR SERVES: 4
4 TBS OLIVE OIL
4 CLOVES OF GARLIC, SLICED
1 1/2 TSP. PEPERONCINO
4 DOZ LITTLE NECK CLAMS, or COCKLES, or MANILA CLAMS, well scrubbed and rinsed
1/4 CUP WHITE WINE
JUICE OF ONE LEMON
In a heavy bottomed pot heat the olive oil, then add the garlic and the 1 tsp. of the Peperoncino. Let this cook on medium for 2 minutes being careful not to let the garlic brown, then add the wine. Bring to a boil then to a simmer. Add the clams. With a heavy spoon get all the clams coated with the wine and garlic liquid. THEN, cover tightly and keep on simmer and STEAM the clams until they have opened, takes about 8 minutes. Shake the pot midway thru GENTLY. Carefully remove the cover and give the clams a good but gentle stir. Remove any that did not open. Add the lemon juice and the balance of the peperoncino and gently stir again. SERVE! with some good bread. That’s it!! Now,are you wondering why I have salt in the ingredient list? Taste that liquid. I will venture a guess that it’s totatlly seasoned. Why? The liquor from the clams is salt water. That will season the juices. Adding salt will put it over the top, unless you feel you need to, SO,before you serve, taste..then season if you need to, and drizzle with good Olive oil, then serve. COOKING RULE…you can always add, you can NEVER subtract salt from a dish. There’s also a lack of greenery here..it’s no needed. Those clams look beautful without the green addition. If you feel you need it…a little chopped flatleaf Italian parsley I guess (can you see my displeasure?? lol)..but one should always eat to one’s taste and pleasure.