Saturday, June 05, 2010

What's in Your Pantry? -- Desperation Clam Sauce

It's been said before, but looking into a person's pantry is very much like spying on someone's groceries in the checkout line at the supermarket. It can reveal a lot about a person.

Two things that I often wonder about –– What do people cook on a regular basis, especially during the middle of the week, when they're short on time and energy? And when it comes to it, ok, yes, what is in their pantry?

What kind of chocolate is in there? How many types of salt do they have tucked away? Are they tidy and organized or is everything shoved in haphazardly? What kind of oil do they cook with? Is there an amazing ingredient hiding behind the corn starch or curry powder that I need to know about?

When I am desperate and tired, I rifle through my pantry -- ok, it's just a really tall cabinet! -- and look for solutions.

A few nights ago one came in the form of three cans of clams.

Now, I can't promise that you will love this. My sister really doesn't, though she acknowledges its merits. She thinks it's like ham –– we never long for it, but when my mom barbecues a whole ham we are surprised by how happy we are to eat it.

I think A. is pretty ambivalent. He never even comments.

I, however, find this linguine with clam sauce to be very satisfying and incredibly easy. You can make it in your sleep. I always have the ingredients on hand, and the whole dish can be ready in fifteen minutes. Add a salad and you have a fine meal.

All you need are clams, garlic, parsley, butter, thyme, and linguine. I almost always use Snow's brand chopped clams, because they come in clam juice. This way you don't need to bother buying a bottle of the stuff. If you buy clams in water, be sure to spring for the extra bottle of clam juice. It really is essential.

This is not a fancy linguine and clam sauce. These are canned clams, but the garlic and butter combined with the clam juice make for a delicious sauce that bathes the linguine well. Some folks might like to thicken the sauce with flour, but not me. I prefer the brothiness of the unthickened sauce.

And yes, I like to dust the whole thing with parmesan cheese. I can just hear the gasps now.

––Cheese on seafood! A culinary catastrophe!

I say eat what you enjoy!

Linguine with Clam Sauce

1/4 cup butter
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
3 6.5 ounce cans Snow's chopped clams
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
3/4 pound linguine

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the linguine and cook until al dente. Drain.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the garlic and cook for one minute over moderate heat. Open the cans of clams and pour in the juice only, stirring.

Add the parsley, salt, pepper, and thyme and simmer for ten minutes. Add the clams and heat through.

Serve the sauce over the linguine. Pass parmesan cheese at the table, if you can stand the humiliation!

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