I recently came into possession of my latest cooking implement. I won’t retroactively add this to my tools post but will make this both a fundamentals and recipe post. First on the tool itself.
This is a Phillips pasta maker. As far as I know there are two different models. This one is the better of the two because it includes a built in scale. The scale makes things ever so easy because all you have to do is pour in your flour and let the machine weigh it – and then ask it how much liquid to add. It’s that simple.
For years I have seen pasta kits that include some cute crank device to cut your noodles after you mix the flour and egg, knead the dough, let it rest, flatten it with a rolling pin and then run it through the device a couple times before screwing in the cutting attachment. I don’t know about you but by the time I got done with all that, my family is already burping and asking what’s for dessert. I like convenience.
Ok, so first lets talk about the pasta. One of my absolute favorite dishes is Linguine and Clam Sauce. I first had this as a teenager and have loved it ever since, putting my own tweaks on it when I started making it myself until I developed the sauce which I have provided the recipe for at the end of this post. Now I have had it with marinara and while good – my heart is forever embedded in the white.
Linguine Vongole Bianco.
That sprite garlicky taste of the sea with juicy clams and al dente pasta. Give me a little bread to sop up the liquid and you might not see me for a while. But if Linguine with Clam Sauce is the darling dish, then Squid Ink Linguine is the dark secret love affair! It looks as decadent and exotic as it tastes.
The ingredients for the pasta itself couldn’t be simpler. From left to right above – imported Spanish squid ink (which does impart some flavor!), semolina pasta flour, an egg and all purpose flour. Mixing these in the right proportions is all that is required to make pasta noodles. This machine makes this ridiculously easy. Add the dry ingredients first to the hopper in the machine.
Here I have mixed one egg with a round tablespoon of the squid ink which has the consistency of fruit jam when you spoon the stuff out. If you buy the squid ink online like I did – you will want to take the jar and spoon its contents into an ice tray and freeze it. 17.6 oz of squid ink will spoil once you open it unless you make this stuff every day. I have found that one standard ice cube of this squid ink is enough to make 1 lb of pasta.
After the machine weighs the flour it tells you exactly what to add as far as wet ingredients go. For the above I had to add a little water to reach that amount. The maker comes with a graduated cylinder to measure the wet ingredients.
Then you start the pasta machine and it starts mixing the flour. Pour the wet ingredients into the slot on the lid and for 3 minutes it will knead the dough. After that, the pasta starts to extrude.
Silky noodles of ebony linguine with the smell of the salty beach start to come out.
The pasta is as beautiful as it is flavorful. A celebration of the ocean’s treasures on the mouth and while it is extruding from the machine, a feast for the eyes and nose as well.
In just a few minutes I have just under 1 lb of artisanal pasta. Seriously – I ask you, please tell me where you find pasta like this that isn’t dry, odorless and tasteless. Unless you spend a lot of money or know a La Trattoria that also has a deli counter, it isn’t going to happen. When my wife and I used to visit her parents when they lived in New Jersey, my mother in law would get the most delectable, freshly made cheese ravioli at an Italian deli and make my family a supper to die for. My oldest son STILL raves about her gravy with that ravioli. But even those places do not make squid ink pasta.
For the sauce, there are multiple schools of thought. You can really impress your guests by going to a fish monger and coming out with a 10 lb bag of live clams and set to scrubbing them and shucking some and I would applaud you if you did. Indeed the grandeur of your table would certainly benefit from it. But for this particular dish and my recipe – I will confess I cheat. And with amazing results. But I will have to issue some caveats if you decide to do what I did. Above I have frozen clams. I also use canned clams along with these.
I also use concentrated clam broth for added flavor. Believe it or not, it does make a difference and I would rather use that than add salt.
My recipe will make a LOT of clam sauce. What you see above is one serving ready for dishing out on top of the pasta. The recipe for the sauce is at the bottom of this article.
6 minutes of boiling and our fresh pasta is perfectly al dente.
As an added flavor booster I like to add salmon roe to the completed dish. Stirred into the pasta after serving, the eggs pop when chewed and give a very pleasant seafood kick to the overall meal.
And the dish plated. At this point I’ll toss the pasta, roe and clams and dig in. This is truly one of my all time favorite dishes and one my kids adore as well. Definitely one of those heirloom dishes that get passed down from generation to generation (I hope). This one started with me 😉
Below is my recipe for the clam sauce. I didn’t include the recipe for the pasta only because I have a pasta maker. But using the post above you can see what I did. I used a 70-30 mix of semolina to all purpose flour.
Don’s White Clam Sauce (serves 8-10 with pasta)
- One 16 oz container frozen clams thawed.
- Two 10 oz cans whole baby clams (and juice).
- Two 6.5 oz cans chopped clams (and juice).
- 1 1/2 cups chopped flat leaf parsley leaves.
- 6-10 (to taste) cloves garlic minced.
- 3 cloves garlic thin sliced with a mandolin (optional).
- 3-4 tablespoons arrow root (recommended) or corn starch.
- 1 tablespoon concentrated clam broth (optional but recommended).
- 1 tsp fish sauce (optional but recommended).
- 1 tablespoon of salmon roe per dinner guest (optional but recommended).
- 1/4 cup dry white wine.
- 1/2 cup olive oil.
- Heat the olive oil in a pan.
- Add the chopped parsley to the olive oil and heat for 10 seconds, stirring.
- Add the mandolin sliced garlic and half the minced garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds.
- Pour in all the clams and juice from the cans (do NOT add the frozen clams at this stage).
- Pour in the white wine and stir well.
- Add the fish sauce and clam concentrate and mix well.
- Simmer the mix for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Mix the arrow root or corn starch with a small amount of cold water very well and add it to the sauce in the pan. Stir very well – use a whisk if you have one. I prefer arrow root because it has no flavor and thickens the sauce without making it cloudy. You have a thicker, clear clam sauce.
- Add the remaining garlic.
- Stir and simmer another minute
- Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for ten minutes. This is VERY important.
- After 10 minutes, stir in the thawed frozen clams. Do not do this too soon – if the sauce is still boiling the frozen clams will be VERY tough.
- Serve over fresh cooked pasta.
- Garnish each dish with a tablespoon of salmon roe.
- Save leftover sauce in a sealed container and refrigerate for use later. When reheating the sauce, heat only to room temp. Do not heat to boiling. Let the heat from your pasta warm the leftover sauce up the rest of the way.