“Mornings were the best part of the day! We got to go to work with my mom! My brother and I couldn’t eat breakfast fast enough to get ready! Sitting by the bathroom door we patiently watched my mom put on her lipstick. I loved the sound she made after carefully sliding the lipstick around her lips, pursing her lips together. That pop sound signaled, “Let’s go!”
Working was going down to “the restaurant” to help set up all the tables for lunch. While my brother and I carefully placed the paper placemats at each place setting, my mom methodically placed the silverware in their proper spots. Watching her balance all those butter dishes I marveled at how she tossed the plates like Frisbees landing perfectly over the butter knives! I secretly hoped that one day my mom would let me set up the tables all by myself.
Finally after setting up all those tables we got our much anticipated reward! We followed my mom into the kitchen where she pulled out two little cans of tomato juice out of the refrigerator. As we continued to follow her to the salad pantry where she lifted up the gleaming stainless steel top to pull out a lemon cutting it into perfect wedges we caught a glimpse of my dad and his brothers busy at work! My brother and I stood very quietly as we didn’t want to distract them from their work. The restaurant kitchen was sacred! Grabbing 2 small glasses, my mom had us sit at a table adjacent to the bar. As we slid into the booth my brother and I gleefully opened up those little cans of tomato juice pouring it into little glasses and squeezing wedges of lemon into them! I can still remember the taste of that tomato juice! To this day no tomato juice has ever compared to what we sipped on back then in “the restaurant” sitting next to my mom after a productive morning!” My brother and I felt great satisfaction knowing that we too did our share in “the restaurant”! “
Have you all been practicing making your garlic and oil sauce? Don’t worry if you have had to practive a few times to get it perfect. It’s all in the timing of getting the garlic a perfect gold color and then stopping the cooking by adding the parsley cooling it off.
Now that you have mastered the basic recipe of Garlic and Oil Sauce the next sauces will be easy. Linguini White Clam was another very popular dish at “the restaurant”. It uses the same ingredients and the same exact method as the garlic and oil recipe with the addition of clams. We will be omitting the salt since the clams are already salty. In the restaurant we used cherrystone clams (big clams) instead of the littlenecks (baby clams). We liked using the cherrystone clams because they had the most clam juice and also because they yielded the most clams with the least amount of shucking. We don’t recommend canned clams. To get “the restaurant” flavor always use fresh clams!
Shucking a clam doesn’t require strength. It requires a little knowledge to get the clam knife through the opening of the clams cutting the muscle that keeps it shut tight. Once the clam knife penetrates into the cavity of the clam then you turn the knife upwards to cut through both ends of the muscle that attach the clam to the shell. If you feel intimidated by shucking a clam you could always ask the fishmonger at the seafood market to shuck them for you. Also another trick is to put the clams in the freezer for an hour which will relax the muscle that keeps the clam shut tight. The clam knife will be easier to wedge in between the clam shell. An even easier way is to put the clams in the freezer for 3 hours. Then bring them out and let them thaw. As they thaw they will open up for you.
Linguini White Clam
(Served over 1 pound of linguini)
A dozen cherrystone clams ( shucked and save ½ cup clam juice)
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs chopped Italian parsley
4 medium cloves of thinly sliced thin
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Wash and scrub the clams. Shuck the clams and save all the clam juice. Put the clam juice aside to allow all the sand and clam bits to settle. Chop the clams well. Pour off the clear clam juice discarding the sandy settlement. Saute the garlic in the extra virgin olive oil until golden. Take the skillet off the burner and throw in the chopped parsley. Pour in the ½ cup of clear clam juice, the chopped clams and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Return to medium high heat. The clam sauce will foam as the clam juice evaporates. Keep stirring. Once the foam forms to the center of the pan the clams will be cooked (probably around 3 minutes). Add a ladle (1/4 cup) of starchy pasta water from your pasta that has been cooking to the white clam sauce.
Cook the pasta according to your liking. We always make our pasta aldente! You may either add the sauce to the pasta or you can add the pasta to the skillet to soak up some of the sauce and then pour it all in a big pasta bowl and serve. Depending on whether you want to serve this dish as a first course or main course, it can serve anywhere from 2-6 people.
A variation of the White Clam Sauce is Red Clam Sauce. It is the same recipe except for one ingredient. Instead of the 1/4 cup of pasta water, at the end you add a 1/4 cup of marinara sauce. Use the 825 MAIN Marinara! I promise it will be the exact taste of “the restaurant”!