Clambake Bounty

My fall isn’t complete until I’ve attended (and perhaps hosted) at least one clambake.  It’s a regional thing.  I know the south has their craw fish boils, and east coasters do lobster bakes.  But in the mid-west, clam bakes are king come September, October and even into November.

You stack dozens of bagged clams, seasoned half chickens, corn on the cob and sweet potatoes all in a giant stock pot.  Then the party indulges in steamy, creamy clam chowder and a variety of pumpkin ales and spiked ciders while everyone tries not to watch the pot too closely.  You know what they say about a watched pot, right?

After guests have stuffed themselves silly with these tender treats, dipped in drawn butter, there’s usually a lot leftover.  Whether it’s the chicken nobody saved room for, or the extra dozen clams that never fit in the stock pot, there’s generally excess food from a bake that wasn’t cheap and needs to be eaten up. 

I was lucky enough to be sent home with a couple dozen clams from the last clam bake I attended, and I knew exactly what I wanted to make with them-Linguine and clams!  It’s quick, tasty and easy.  

linguini and clams

No precision required here, just feel it out and make it to your taste.  Steam the clams in a covered pot until they’ve opened.  Then coax them out of the shell with a fork.  Next, start some water boiling for your pasta.  Use any long noodle you’ve got around if you don’t have linguine.  In a saute pan, warm a generous amount of olive oil at medium heat, and add chopped or minced fresh garlic. (In a bind and short on fresh garlic? Substitute with garlic powder)

I’m not shy with garlic, but if you are…try roasting it with some olive oil in the oven for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees, until golden brown, prior to adding it to the pan.  That will take the bite out of it.

When the garlic is softened, and just starting to brown, add about half a stick of butter and let it melt while the pasta is cooking.  Don’t let that brown.

Just before your noodles are finished, add your clams and toss them around in the oil, butter, and garlic.  Drain your pasta and add to the pan, then toss everything together.  Season with salt and pepper.  Now traditionally, Italians don’t put cheese on seafood dishes.  So instead, garnish with fresh parsley, if you’ve got it on hand.  Dry could work too.  I often ignore the “garnish” instructions on recipes, but this one really does add to the dish, so if you’ve got it…use it!

Boom, done.  Even my two year old enjoyed this.

clams

Another good option would be to add the clams to a marinara sauce, maybe toss in a pinch of crushed red pepper and serve it with the linguine.

Now, I need your help.  Do you have some leftovers you’d like to use again, or excess ingredients you don’t want to waste?  Give me a challenge and I’ll feature it in an upcoming post.

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