Rinse the clams with cold water and scrub them clean. Open the clams. If you know how to open clams it is better not to place them in the oven to open, but most people need the help. Place them on a clean sheet pan and put in a hot 450 F oven for a short time. The heat will cause them to open, and as soon as they open a little, remove the pan from the oven. Chowder clams can be frozen in the shell, and open easily after an hours defrosting at room temp. Open the clams over an clean bowl, and save all the juices. Open the clams by slipping a knife inside the shell and cutting the two adductor muscles at either side. Take care not to cut yourself. I advocate the use of protective gloves.
After you have cut them, you can open the shell and twist the top off. Then cut the adductor muscles under the clam, freeing the body from the shell. Let it go in the bowl. When you have finished, pour any juices from the shells on the pan into the bowl. See the technique for How to Open a Clam. Remove the clams from the bowl by pouring all through a strainer into another bowl. This separates the clams from the liquor and catches any shell fragments.
Cut up the clams. First julienne the lip of the clam to remove it and then remove any portions of the adductor muscles. These go together on a "tough" pile, and often represent as much as half of the weight of the clam bodies. Chop these very fine, as fine as you can. Now cut the clam bodies into 4 or six pieces.
Strain the clam juice once more into the second bowl. As you do this, keep your eye on the last bit, which may have sand or shell bits. Discard any sand or shell. Add all the chopped clam bodies and tough parts back to the now well strained juice.
Melt the butter and olive oil together on a slow fire. You may choose to use all olive oil. Cook the garlic, pepper, and oregano in the oil to soften but not brown. Add the water and wine, and add the chopped clams and liquor and cook on a slow fire until heated through. Never allow it to boil. When the chopped clams are done, add the chopped parsley and allow it to stay, just below the simmer. Stir frequently while cooking. You most likely won't want any salt, but you may like a little more pepper.
The pasta: Bring the water to the boil, adding salt and oil. Add the linguini, and cool for 9 minutes for al dente. It is done when the "white bone" disappears from the center of the pasta. Drain, rinse with hot water, drain well and toss with a little olive oil and butter. Serve in shallow bowls. Ladle the clam sauce over the pasta.
Serving Ideas: bread sticks with butter
Note: Technically, this will serve four. Don't depend on it, buy a few extra chowders and increase the recipe accordingly.
© 1996, Steve K. Holzinger. All rights reserved.
This page originally published as part of the electronic Gourmet Guide between 1994 and 1998.
Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.
Modified July 2007
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