Chef's Note: In different incarnations, this has been a part of my repertoire for twenty-five years. It’s one of my all-time favorites, and all it needs is a jet-cold glass of Pinot Grigio or a Bianco from
Friuli to make it sing. Add some blanched rapini (broccoli rabe) to round out the meal. Like many of my favorite dishes, this one began with fishermen. They brought dried sausages on their boats,
caught clams, and cooked the two together for supper. You’ll find variations of this shellfish-and-cured pork idea in China, Portugal, Spain—in just about every fishing village around the world.
You can use either cherrystone or Manila clams. Manilas open faster than cherrystones, within about four minutes. If you don’t own a sauté pan large enough to hold a pound of pasta and a lot of clams,
a big roasting pan set right on the burners of your stove will work in its place, or you can use a Dutch oven. Taste before adding any salt; the sausage has a good amount of salt and you may not need any extra.
Wine Pairing: Greco, Pinot Grigio, or Friuli Bianco
- 24 manila clams or cherrystone clams (1 pound), scrubbed
- 1/4 cup California Olive Ranch extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup sliced garlic
- 3 cups dry white wine
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- 3/4 cup peeled and diced Calabrian sausage or any spicy salami or chorizo
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound dried tagliarini
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup California Olive Ranch extra-virgin olive oil for tossing
Toss out any clams that aren't tightly closed. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
Heat a large sauté pan, roasting pan, or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the California Olive Ranch extra-virgin olive oil and, when it’s hot, add the garlic.
Sauté until the garlic is light brown. Immediately add the clams and cook until you hear them popping, no more than 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the wine.
Increase the heat to high, place the pan on the heat for just 30 seconds, then reduce the heat to medium-high. (If using cherrystone clams, you’ll need to cover the pan.) Using tongs,
transfer the opened clams to a baking sheet. Shake the pan to redistribute the closed clams. (If cooking cherrystone clams, lift the lid every 30 seconds or so and take out any opened clams.)
After 5 minutes, give any clam that has not opened a good tap with a pair of tongs or a metal spoon, and put it back in the liquid, cooking for another minute to see if it will open.
Discard any clams that do not open. Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil, cooking for about 1 minute to reduce the liquid. Add any clam juice from the baking sheet to the pan, along with the basil,
sausage, and black pepper.
Cook the pasta in the boiling water for about 6 minutes, or until not quite al dente, because you’ll finish cooking it in the pan used to cook the clams.
(Again, the clock isn’t as important as tasting to tell when the pasta is ready.) Reserve 2 cups of the pasta water, then drain the pasta.
Add the pasta to the sauté pan and toss for 1 minute. Add the clams and the parsley and toss. If the pasta is dry, add 1/2 cup of the pasta water, or more if needed.
Cook until the pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes more for fresh pasta or 3 to 4 more for dried. Taste to tell when the pasta is perfect.
Toss with California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil and serve right away.
Michael Chiarello's Bottega (Chronicle Books, 2010), by Michael Chiarello. Reprinted with permission from Chronicle Books.