New Jersey White Clam Sauce - By Chef Charles Knight
There are a number of ways to prepare White Clam Sauce, but only ONE Classic Method. Recently I had the opportunity to visit New Jersey my home state. One of the wonderful things about the Garden State it is truly a garden of fresh ingredients. Among Jersey tomatoes and silver Queen corn, is the most incredible delight Jersey Clams. Jersey Clams are very tender and not chewy like most others. Enjoy!
PREPARATION 45 minutes – makes 4 to 6 servings
Prepping fresh clams:
Using a brush clean the fresh clams under cold running water. Place the clams in a bowl and fill it with filtered or purified water. Do not use chlorinate tap water as it could kill the clam and alter the taste of the sauce. Adding salt or cornmeal to the water will encourage the clams to spit out sand from inside their shells. Shuck and place the clams and the liquor in a large measure cup. You will need about 5 to 6 cups of clams and clam liquor for this recipe.
- ¼ cup extra-pure golden olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ onion, minced
- 6 to 8 cloves garlic, sliced thin #1 cutting cone or minced fine
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- ½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or dried
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 cup Chardonnay or dry white wine
- 5 to cups clams in liquor, or 6 cans 6.5 ounces clams in juice
- 8 to 10 clams not shucked and cook in the sauce
- ½ cup cream or half-n-half
- 2 egg yolks beaten
- 9 ounces precooked linguini pasta (I use pre-cooked Buitoni - excellent)
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated #1 cutting cone
- 3 or 4 tablespoons fresh basil, julienne
- Italian garlic bread, for mopping
The key to this recipe is LOW and SLOW. You do not want to brown OR BURN the onions, garlic, and fresh herbs.
Heat a large sauté skillet over medium-low heat 225°F. Add the olive oil and butter. When the butter has meted completely add the onions and garlic and cook until translucent (cooked through), about 7 to 10 minutes
Add the parsley, thyme, red pepper flakes (if using). Stir to combine. Add the wine and cook slowly until the alcohol cooks off, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the clams and clam liquor. Bring to a simmer and cook 3 to 5 minutes.
Before adding the cream, beat the egg yolks and add to cream. Stir to combine. Add the cream and egg mixture to the sauce and stir. Continue to cook until the sauce thickens 4 to 5 minutes. Stir occasionally NOTE: egg yolks function as a natural emulsifier meaning the water and oil in the dish will become one, will not separate, providing a rich creamy sauce with excellent flavor.
Add clams in shell at this point and cook until clams cook and completely open. Then remove to serve.
Add the pre-cooked pasta to the skillet. Allow to cook 5 to 7 minutes, until the pasta is al dente and has absorbed the sauce. Toss lightly.
TO SERVE: place Linguini and Clam Sauce in bowls, spoon sauce over pasta. Top with grated cheese and fresh chopped basil and serve with garlic bread for mopping up sauce.