Saturday, March 31, 2007

Mario Batali's Linguine with Clams & Mussels

How simple is Mario’s dish? Well, right before Kitchen Supper this week, I was breastfeeding Edie and I glanced at the clock and realized it was 7:03pm. Our guests were arriving in 27 minutes and I hadn’t done a thing about getting dinner ready. I told David as much and he stared at me unphased and said, “You should blog about that.” Neither of us seemed too concerned, even though I hadn't even put out so much as a hunk of cheese for the guests.

But this recipe is the kind you have to make right before you serve anyway, so I figured it would work out nicely. I handed Edie to my husband, then, just to add the whole time-clock-Iron-Chef feel to the evening, I mangled an octopus that was supposed to go in the salad. These things happen, so I tossed the whole thing in the bin and made a simple salad instead. I put half a loaf of bread out with some St. Andre cheese and with the wine flowing, guests arrived and seemed quite happy nibbling and talking.

So, here’s Mario’s recipe. The clams and mussels look so gorgeous flitting about in the sauce-drenched pasta that I bring the whole dish to the table in my big paella pan because it makes for such an impressive presentation. Be warned though – David tells me that this is not his favorite dish because the “protein isn’t mixed in with the pasta. You have to dig into the shells to get at 'em.” (Picture him saying this to me in his Australian accent. No matter what he says it feels like I'm in a Crocodile Dundee movie. Fortunately, I like that.)

So, yes, there is some effort getting the little buggers out of their shells but the drama as you bring the big, heaping, steaming pan of clams and cockles to the table is worth hunting for protein. I doubled this recipe for the 6 adults and we had yummy leftovers the next day and a lovely lunch for our babysitter.

Linguine (Spaghetti) con Vongole e Cozze
(Linguine (or Spahghetti) with Clams and Mussels)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 cups canned tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
Sea salt and black pepper
1 pound Manila clams, scrubbed
1 pound small mussels, scrubbed
1/2 cup white wine
1 pound spaghetti or Linguine
1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/4 cup

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt.

In a 12 to 14-inch saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, and add the garlic. Cook 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes. Raise the heat and cook until the tomatoes give off their juices, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add the mollusks. Cook, stirring and tossing, until all of the mollusks have opened about 10 minutes. Discard any that have not opened.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the boiling water until tender yet al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain and add to the pan with the sauce. Cook over high heat 2 minutes, adding the parsley and adjusting the seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately.


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