The Literate Chef

Linguine with White Clam Sauce (Linguine con Vongole)

In Clams, Pasta, Recipes, Sauces, Seafood on June 16, 2012 at 9:18 AM

Linguine with White Clam Sauce (Linguine con Vongole)

(Serves four)

4 doz. medium-sized Cherrystone or Littleneck clams, about 5 lbs.
4 tbsp. of finely chopped garlic, about 12 cloves
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat (Italian) parsley
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
½ cup of dry white wine
2 8 oz. bottles of Clam Juice
1 & ½ lbs. dried Linguine (Barilla, DeCecco or other premium brand)

These steps can be performed in advance of serving the meal

1.    Set a large pot (6-8 quarts) of water on the stove, cover it and bring to a boil. When it begins to boil, reduce heat, keep covered and hot.
2.    Clean and shuck the clams, reserving the juices, you should have about 3 cups. Set aside 12 clams unopened – 3 for each pasta serving.
3.    Chop the garlic.
4.    Wash and dry the parsley, but do not chop it until just before adding to the sauce, that retains its color.
5.    Heat the olive oil on medium in a large sauté pan, and add the butter.
6.    When the butter is melted, foamy and bubbling, reduce heat to medium, add the garlic and cook it stirring continuously for about 1 minute.
7.    Add the wine and return heat to high, bring to a boil, continue to boil for 3 minutes, stirring continuously
8.    Add clam juice and reserved clam liquid. We prefer our clam sauce with a lot of liquid, if you prefer it on the dry side, than add only 1 bottle or none.
9.    Bring to a boil for 3 minutes.

About 15 or 20 minutes before you are ready to serve the Linguine

1.    Bring the pasta water and clam sauce to a full boil. Add the 12 reserved unopened clams to the sauce and cover.
2.    Add kosher salt to the water and add the linguine. Cook the linguine until not quite al dente, about 7 minutes.
3.    After the pasta has been cooking for about 3 minutes, remove the cover from the sauce, add the parsley and shucked, stir well, and continue cooking uncovered.

White Clam Sauce, ready for the pasta

4.    Drain the pasta, add it to the sauce in the pan, and mix it well with tongs until al dente.
5.    Remove to a large bowl and serve, garnishing each dish with 3 clams that are still in their shells.

Hot crusty Italian Bread makes a great accompaniment, as does a good dry white wine such as Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc.

Please see Clam Shucking for the secret on opening clams.

  1. Chef,

    We used simply to clean the clams and then put them in the pot to open as the sauce cooked…but that was for the red sauce. Our clams came from the Sound, out near City Island, where I would go with my father at low ride, or from Cold Spring harbor on the near North Shore. Dad had a friend, Ralph Palumbo, and we’d all three go out there early in the morning to dig clams…and drink cold beer.

    I didn’t learn much about clam digging (what’s to learn?) but I learned abou6t drinking cold beer.

    Peadar Ban

    • Learning to drink cold beer as we did was a lesson in life itself. For the sauce, I like to open most of the clams so that they do not overcook. The ones I keep in the shell are mostly for the visuals, also there are usually a few who will not submit to my knife skills, so they go into the pot.

  2. A few years after Joe’ys visit to Umberto’s (8/7/72) and the dust settled on Broom & Mulberry I visited Umberto’s and have always said their Lnguine w/clam sauce was the best I’ve ever tasted. Rich, if the picture is indicative of the taste I think you have given them a run for the money.

  3. Reblogged this on The Literate Chef and commented:

    Linguine con Vongole – It’s what was for dinner last night when three cousins came to dine with us. There were six for dinner, so except for the bottled clam juice, we upped each ingredient by 50%. There were no leftovers. For secrets to Clam Shucking, see the linked article which is also in the Article Index.

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