Monthly Archives: May 2019

LINGUINE CON VONGOLE ROSSE. LINGUINE WITH RED CLAM SAUCE

Oh the aroma of Fresh Littleneck Clams simmering in a tomato sauce flavored with garlic, wine, and Peperoncino. It’s the stuff Italian food dreams are made of. Provided you have the right ingredients this is a very simple dish to make in the home kitchen. ItalianAmericans grow up on this dish. We make it for Christmas Eve dinner. We make it for celebrations. We order it out. Clearly there are many ways people cook this dish. Personally I prefer the whole clam method using our local Littleneck clams harvested in the wild off our coast. Not everyone lives at the Jersey Shore or Long Island Shore so it’s not always a practical ingredient. If your local seafood store carries Manila Clams or New Zealand Cockles use them. In fact if you’re trying to cook more like they do in Italy only a live whole small clam will do. The smaller the better. Littlenecks are a bit larger than the clams in Italy but since they are local and fresh they are what I use. Certainly you can use canned if that’s all that’s available. Don’t deprive yourself of a delicious plate of seafood pasta. Like the first Italian immigrants to the USA did, they improvised and in turn created classic we still enjoy and treasure today. If possible look for Italian canned tomatoes as in imported from Italy. My choice is the San Marzano DOP variety. Now let’s get into the kitchen together and create magic for ourselves, family and friends. You can do this!!

Linguine with Red Clam Sauce

For 4 people. Time: 1 hour

3 1/2 dozen fresh small clams like Littleneck, Manila, or New Zealand Cockles. Whole Foods generally carries most of these.

3 tbs olive oil

4 sliced cloves of garlic.

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

1/2 tsp. Peperoncino (dried red Chile flakes)

1/8 cup dry white wine

2 28 oz cans of Imported Italian Plum Tomatoes called Pomodori Pelati. My preference is the San Marzano DOP variety.

1 lb Imported Italian Linguine. deCecco is a popular Italian brand sold Nationally.

In a heavy bottomed Dutch oven or large cast iron pan heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the garlic and season with the salt and Peperoncino. When the garlic does its happy dance and the aroma is amazing add the wine. Let this bubble and cook for about 5 minutes. Empty the tomatoes into a bowl and crush them with your hands or use a food processor. Pour into the garlic and oil. Stir well. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium. Let this cook for 20-25 minutes. Stir frequently. Now add the clams. Then cover. Reduce to a simmer and let them steam in the sauce until they open. Check to see if they have opened after 10 minutes. Stir gently. If some are still close cover and let cook another 5 minutes. While the sauce is cooking cook till just al dente the Linguine in plenty of salted water. Drain. Any unopened clams discard. Add the linguine to the pot and coat well. Cook for 2 minutes. Finito. You should need any more salt to season since the clams add Their briny liquor to the mix. It’s truly a little bit of heaven in you mouth when you taste this. My versionI think is close to the source. No herbs. Tomato. Garlic. Olive oil. Hot spice. And the oceanic wonder of the taste of the clams. In places where fresh clams are impossible to find use a large can of chopped ocean clams or the minced ones but only cook for 5 minutes after adding them. Serve with extra Peperoncino and a drizzle of Olive oil. I load my plate up but always be mindful of your diners. A pinch of it as you add in the sauté gives a nice kick. You can amp your serving up with more but you can’t remove the heat if you’ve loaded it up in the sauté. Buon Appetito!!

RAGU’ BOLOGNESE…this is how I make it

RAGU’ BOLOGNESE is the stuff that heated food debates are made of. A meat and tomato sauce from Bologna, Emilia-Romagna in Northern Italy it’s morphed in many kitchens and restaurants globally as ANY tomato and ground meat sauce for Pasta. Well…..call it what you will but there really is a specific sauce with specific more or less agreed on ingredients that are what Italians know to be RAGU’ BOLOGNESE. There’s even a certified formula for the sauce filed in October of 1982 to preserve the historical food heritage of this beloved dish. Unless it’s this method or ones close to it, it’s not a Bolognese sauce but instead a Meat Sauce with Tomato for pasta. Still very delicious. Still wonderful. But not a Bolognese. At the heart of this is that to be Bolognese you need something to be from Bologna. The close to the original as compiled by people in Bologna, Emilia-Romagna is the one filed in the October. For purposes of this blogpost I’m giving you some food facts and reasons why one is called one thing and something is called another. I realize that after reading this you’re going to simply say, Who cares it’s All Bolognese!! LOL. Whatever. I’m asking though that you try this recipe as I’ve developed it and hope that you enjoy it as yet another sauce to add to your recipe file.

RAGU’ BOLOGNESE

3/4 LB GROUND CHUCK (BEEF)

1/2 POUND DICED PANCETTA

1 MEDIUM ONION, FINELY DICED

1 CELERY STALK, FINELY DICED

1 LARGE CARROT, PEELED AND FINELY DICED

1/2 STICK UNSALTED BUTTER

3/4 CUP DRY WHITE WINE

1/2 CUP HOMEMADE OR LOW SODIUM/NON FAT BEEF STOCK

28 OZ CAN OF IMPORTED ITALIAN PLUM TOMATOES RUN THRU A FOOD MILL OR IN A PROCESSOR TILL SMOOTH, OR USE THE SAME AMOUNT OF PASSATA OR POMI

3/4 CUP OF WHOLE MILK

SALT AND BLACK PEPPER TO TASTE

2 TBS. HEAVY CREAM (OPTIONAL…THE RULE IS, IF USING DRIED PASTA, ADD THE CREAM. IF USING FRESH MADE PASTA, DON’T ADD IT. WHY? THE BOLOGNESE SAID SO THAT’S WHY..LOL)

PARMIGIANO REGGIANO

1 LB TAGLIATELLE OR PAPPARDELLE, COOKED AL DENTE

Using your heaviest saucepan/dutch oven, cook the pancetta on low stirring occasionally for at least 10 minutes. Add the vegetables and the butter, seasoning with salt and pepper and let these cook for at least 10 minutes on low until they are softened. Then add the ground meat, raising the heat to medium. Let the meat mix with the pancetta and vegetables and cook this until the meat has finished browning. At least 10 minutes. Deglaze this pan with the Wine and stir. Cook this down for about 8 minutes, stirring. Add the Tomato and the 1/2 the stock blending well. Cover the pot and leave on simmer for 2 hours checking occasionally. If at any time it’s looking to dry add more stock. After you’ve passed the 2 hour mark uncover and pour in the milk and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper as needed, your sauce should be thickened and fully cooked. If it’s at all watery continue to simmer for and additional 15-20 minutes. If using the cream add it now and stir into the sauce. Now for optimal flavor do this all a day ahead of making the pasta dish. No crime is committed if you eat it all on the same day but it really does get happier overnight!! When ready to serve…Cook the Pasta according to the package instructions till al dente. Drain…In a wide pan that will accomodate all the pasta add a few ladles of the sauce. Then the pasta. Mix…heat for only 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Grate a nice amount of Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top. Blend in, and then serve. 1 lb of pasta will feed 3-4. I hope I’ve done justice to one of the World’s greatest sauces. Mangiare Bene!!