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Marcella Hazan's
Clam Sauce with Tomatoes



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La Belle Cuisine


Clam Sauce with Tomatoes

Essentials of
Classic Italian Cooking

by Marcella Hazan, 1993, Alfred A. Knopf

“Italian clams, particularly the common, small round ones from the Adriatic
are very savory, and little or nothing needs to be done to build up their flavor. Clams from other seas are blander, and you must look for help from external sources to approximate the natural spiciness of a clam sauce you’d be likely to experience in Italy. That explains the presence in the recipe that follows of anchovies and chili pepper.”

1 dozen small littleneck clams
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus
a little more for the pasta
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic chopped fine
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes,
cut up, with their juice, OR
fresh, ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 flat anchovy fillet, chopped very fine
Chopped hot red chili pepper, to taste
1 pound pasta

Recommended pasta:  Spaghettini, thin spaghetti, takes to
clam sauces more successfully than other shapes. A close
enough second is spaghetti.

1. Soak the clams for 5 minutes in a basin or sink filled with cold water. Drain and refill the basin with fresh cold water, leaving in the clams. Vigorously scrub the clams one by one with a very stiff brush. Drain, refill the basin, and repeat the whole scrubbing operation. Do this 2 or 3 more times, always in fresh changes of water, until you see no more sand settling to the bottom of the basin. Discard any that, when handled, don’t clamp shut. Put them in a pan broad enough so that the clams don’t need to be piled up more than 3 deep, cover the pan, and turn on the heat to high. Check the clams frequently, turning them over, and remove them from the pan as they open their shells.
2. When all clams have opened up, detach their meat from the shells, and gently swish each clam in its own juices in the pan to rinse off any sand. Unless they are exceptionally small, cut them up in 2 or even 3 pieces. Put them aside in a small bowl.
3. Line a strainer with paper towels, and filter the clam juices in the pan through the paper into a bowl. Spoon some of the filtered juice over the clam meat to keep it moist.
4. Put the olive oil and garlic in a saucepan, turn on the heat to medium, and cook until the garlic has become colored a pale gold. Add the parsley, stir once or twice, then add the cut up tomatoes, their juice, the chopped anchovy, and the filtered clam juices. Stir thoroughly for a minute or two, then adjust heat to cook at a gentle, but steady simmer for 25 minutes, or until the oil floats free from the tomatoes.

Ahead-of-time note:  The sauce may be prepared several hours in advance
up to this point. Reheat gently when preparing to toss it with the pasta.

5. Taste and correct for salt, add the chopped chili pepper, stir two or three times, then remove pan from heat. Add the cut-up clams, stirring them into the sauce to coat them well. Toss thoroughly with cooked, drained spaghettini or spaghetti. Drizzle a few drops of raw olive oil over the pasta and serve at once.

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