This recipe came from the book Heat, by Bill Buford. For those of you who enjoy foodie books, it’s an enjoyable, if sometimes aggravating read. Enjoyable for his descriptions of food and the inner workings of the food industry. Aggravating that someone so initially inept in the kitchen would be allowed to apprentice at Babbo. The irksome bits get fewer and farther between as Burford becomes a better and better cook, and one of the best things about the book are the inspired, fly-by-the seat of your pants recipes that come out of it.

linguine with clams

In a pan (I started with a saute pan, but as I had a pound of clams, ended up transferring to a heavy bottomed stockpot), melt butter and add some small pinches of garlic and chili. I used a serrano for the color but I suppose you could use dried chiles, poblanos, jalepenos or whatever strikes your fancy. Even chile powder, maybe.

Add medium pinches of onion and panchetta. I love onion and panchetta so I interpreted this as about 3/4 of an onion and 5 slices of panchetta (chopped).

(note: the original recipe says to saute the above in olive oil, then pour off the oil and add butter. This seemed a waste of flavor and oil so I elected to simply use butter in the beginning and not pour anything off. If you wish, you could just use olive oil instead).

On high flame, add white wine. I used a chenin blanc. I don’t know how much, basically just splashed it in. For beginner chefs, I recommend using a cup to do this, not doing it directly from the bottle. Use the sound of the sizzle to tell you when to stop. When it stops sizzling, and you have maybe 1/4 inch liquid on the bottom of the pan, you’re good. Add clams. I added a pound. Make sure they were scrubbed and cleaned well before!

Put on the linguine. The clams will open in 3-4 minutes. Discard any that do not open. Swirl the pan to mix the juices.

At 6 minutes, add the linguine. Add enough pasta water to make a nice sauce. Swirl and heat for 30 seconds or so.

Serve, topped with olive oil and parsley.