Friday, December 11, 2009

3 people, 2lbs clams, 1lb linguine

I needed a quick dinner for 3 of us last evening. Quick because I had didn't get out of a meeting until 7:15 and needed to drive home, cook and have dinner on the table by about 8:15. Also it had to be good since Dave Gilbert (an unbelievably creative local chef) was one of the three! The idea then was to create something tasty within the time it took for the longest thing to happen (essentially in less than 30 minutes).
No problem. Linguine alla vongole to the rescue. This is in some ways a perfect timed dish. If you get the amount of water right, you can start the water pot, then do the small amount of prep (chopping parsley, cleaning clams, peeling/slicing garlic, etc.) while the water is coming to the boil. Thne the clams themselves cook in the amount of time it takes to cook the pasta.

2 T olive oil (cooking oil not finishing oil)
4 cloves of garlic - sliced thinly. Not mashed/pureed/pressed
1 dried cayenne pepper (could use flakes) chopped finely. Include the seeds
2 lbs littleneck clams
1/2 cup dry white wine - I used a cheapish Pouilly Fume
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Handful of parsley chopped fine
Salt/pepper to taste

The clams purging themselves of their grit - in a cold water bath

Put a sufficient quantity of water on to boil. I used 2 gallons for the pound of linguine. I could have gotten away with less, but that's the size of my pasta pot. As soon as the water is boiling, place the pasta into the water and set the timer for 9 minutes (or 1 minute less than the directions on the packet call for.

In a large skillet heat the oil to the shimmering stage over medium heat. Add the garlic and hot peppers, turn down the heat to medium low and cook, stirring or shaking often, until the garlic is fragrant. Once the garlic is fragrant, add the clams and shake the pan to coat the clams with the hot garlicky oil.

Add the wine and lemon juice to the pot, and cover immediately.

Cook the clams until they all open (about 6 minutes). After all clams are open, add a little of the chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper. In the picture below, you can just see some salt crystals falling.

Toss the ingredients together and turn the dish out into a large, warmed bowl. Sprinkle some more of the chopped parsley over the top. I served this "family style" so each guest had the opportunity to help himself.

With this dish I served a bottle of Gravonia which was one of the best wines at the Texas Sommelier convention held at the Four Seasons in the early fall.

After we had pigged out on the clams, I served a cheese course with some cheeses we brought back from Neal's Yard in London. The cheeses are a Coolea - a Gouda like cows milk cheese made in Ireland. Very citrusy, rich, thick, dry. With a nuttiness that is indeed reminiscent of Gouda. Lovely firm, almost crystalline texture. A very well made cheese. The second cheese is a Duckett's Farm caerphilly. It has all the characteristic Caerphilly taste and texture. A good sharp bite, almost honey like sweetness at the finish. It is a pale cream colour in a thick gray dry rind. Finally we had some Harbourne goat blue cheese that is about as subtle as a kick... A very bold, assertive blue. Not much mould for a cheese as potent as this. It felt like a lot of the whey was retained - giving it a strong acid bite.

As a final treat we each allowed ourselves a small glass of the Angostura 1827 rum. This is a rum that has been barrel aged for a considerable amount of time. It has huge vanilla notes and a strong oaky presence. It is a very smooth rum indeed. I am indbted to my friend Thor for introducing me to it.

So, there was the evening a terrific time was had by all. many stories, much concentration and minimal clean up!

No comments: