CLASSIC pasta linguine with clams, pancetta, and leeks








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Here is a variation of the pasta plus clams plus broth recipe, using the added flavors of leeks and pancetta.

for the sauce:

  • 50-60 small clams, Manila preferred; or 40 littleneck clams (slightly larger)
  • five tablespoons olive oil
  • one quarter pound pancetta, diced
  • two cups thinly sliced leeks, white and green parts only
  • two tablespoons chopped flat leaf Italian parsley
  • two tablespoons chopped garlic (peeled and chopped fine)
  • a couple of pinches of red pepper flakes (1/2 tsp or so)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • one-half cup dry white wine
  • two tablespoons butter


  • one cup imported peeled Italian plum tomatoes, roughly chopped

for the pasta:

  • one pound linguine

Wash the clams: let them sprits in cold water for 5-10 minutes. Throw away any clams that are open at this stage (just get rid of them,). Rinse the remainder in another bath of cold water, doing a little hand scrubbing if necessary.

Use a pan or skillet that is large enough to hold the sauce and the linguine when finished. Put in the olive oil and the pancetta, cooking over a medium heat until the pancetta has started render its fat and starts to get brown. Add the garlic and the leeks and saute a minute or so until the leeks are soft.

>>option: if using tomatoes, put them in the saute pan here, break apart with a wooden spoon, stir well; saute for about four minutes, until the tomatoes start to break up.

Add the parsley and the red pepper flakes, a teaspoon of salt and several grinds of black pepper. Stir.

Add the clams (carefully). Add the wine. Stir gently. Smell. When you no longer smell alcohol odor emanating from the pan (10-15 seconds), cover. The clams will steam open.

After a few minutes, start the clam checking process. Look under the cover and see how the clams are doing; hopefully opening. Stir very gently. When all the clams have opened, remove the pan from the heat. (be reasonable: sometimes there will be clams that do not open, ever. Don't wait too long. Just stop and throw those clams away).

Bring 4-5 quarts of water of a raging boil. Add a couple teaspoons salt. Put in the pasta, stirring well to get it mixed around in the water. Cook the pasta just short of al  dente. One can say a minute before al dente, but you have to get your own feel for this; drain well.

Put your pan back on medium heat; add the pasta; stir gently! Cook until the fluid reduces, but not entirely. (the remaining broth is the special treat). Stir in the butter (no cheese).

Serve immediately, with some crusty bread to dip in the broth.


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