Friday, January 29, 2010

My Signature Dish?

I always wonder while watching Hells' Kitchen or Chef Academy or any of the myriad of cooking competitions on our DVR what, if pressed into competition, my signature dish would be. There aren't too many dishes we return to time after time. But this one, a simple quick supper of white clam sauce, always hits the mark.
I have vague memories of special occasions in my house growing up when my Dad would make his version with cans of Progresso sauce and chopped clams and plenty or oregano -- pretty progressive for the 60' s I suppose. These days the ingredients are fresher but the warm, special occasion feeling stays the same.
For our version, while the pasta is boiling, I sauté red pepper flakes and 4-5 cloves of sliced garlic in a good quantity of olive oil for about two minutes over medium heat. I add chopped parsley, the juice of one lemon, about 1/2 - 3/4 cup of white wine (or sometimes clam juice if we don't have any wine open) and a couple pounds of clean Manila clams. James loves these tender tiny clams. Cover the pot and cook until the clams have opened -- about 5 minutes.
When the pasta is just al dente I add the drained noodles to the pot with the clams, along with 3 TBs of butter, salt and plenty of fresh cracked black pepper and toss until the noodles are coated with the light sauce.
My Dad's dish was finished with a shake of that famous "cheese" from a green can. These days -- with seafood, we generally stay on the Italian side with just a topping of chopped parsley or perhaps lightly toasted bread crumbs.

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