Monday, June 28, 2010

Guest Post: Linguine with Clams by Chef Dennis

It is with great pleasure to introduce you to Chef Dennis of More Than A Mouthful, he is the sweetest person and a very talented Chef. I have a feeling his blog will be huge, so hop on over and follow you will really enjoy....

I’d like to start by saying hello to all of Rebecca’s followers on Chow and Chatter, for those of you that don’t know me, I am a former restaurant chef who made the leap into school foodservice five years ago.  When I made the change it was a quality of life decision, but what I didn’t know was how the change would so positively affect my life.  I love my job, I love my girls and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
So when my new friend Rebecca asked me to do a guest blog on her site, I was not only flattered but inspired. 
My classes at the Mount are limited to what can be successfully made in an hour, so I try to teach my girls how to make simple but incredible dishes that they can easily duplicate at home.  One of my favorites is Clams and Linguine. 

 My love of clams and linguine came from a trip to Italy, my wife and I were in Venice at the end of trip.  During one of our walks around that incredible ancient city, we found this out of the way restaurant that was full of locals simply enjoying life.  So later that night we came back for dinner….  We were served so many wonderful simple dishes that night, real food for real people, but what changed our lives for the better was seeing how clams should be made.
To say that those tender little morsels, in that sweet garlicky broth influenced my way of thinking would be an understatement……..clams with linguine would never be the same.

Upon returning home I found that most of the area supermarkets were carrying Mahogany clams, a thin shelled brown version of their cousin the littleneck.
I remembered Mahogany's as a throwaway clam, or a clam the clammers would eat at home, a cheap alternative for a home clam bake.  Not at all a bad clam and we enjoyed many a dinner using them, but then a new supermarket opened in our area that carried bags of farm raised little necks.  Things were definitely looking up, there shells were thicker and their flavor far superior and here’s the kicker, they were sustainable.  (For more information on sustainable seafood check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch).
So let’s get on with my recipe!!

Linguine with Clams
1 lb of good quality Linguine (De Cecco, Del Verde, or Barilla)
Little Neck Clams or small Mahogany Clams ( bag of 50, or at least 15 clams per person)
2 cloves of Garlic sliced 
1 Tablespoon of Pesto or Fresh chopped Basil
Pinch of Crushed Red Pepper
Sprinkle of grated Romano Cheese
2-3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

esto Recipe
2 bunches of Basil
1/2 bunch of Italian Parsley
1/4 cup of grated Romano Cheese
2 cloves of Garlic
1/4 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup of Toasted Pine nuts, or walnuts (optional)

Now timing is everything with this dish. First of all start your pot of water for the pasta heating up, while the water is coming to a boil get out your clams and wash them off in cold water. This is the time for you to inspect your clams, an open clam is a dead clam, (if you tap it and it closes its just trying to fool you) so discard any open clams.

 If a clam gets broken by miss handling it will die and it will smell.....this does not mean all the clams are bad but it will impart an odor to the rest of the clams....this will occur in supermarket clams from time to time. One very important thing to remember about clams is that they come in a mesh bag for a reason, so they can breathe. If you place them in a plastic bag to get them home, remove them from the bag immediately when you get home and place them in a bowl uncovered in the refrigerator. Cold will open clams, but they will close if they are not dead when you move them around. 

So while our water is getting ready and our clams are washing in cold running water, peel and slice your garlic into thin slices, and while I usually use fresh chopped basil in this dish, I had recently been given a box of fresh basil and rather then let it go bad I had made it all into pesto sauce, so for this recipe I used pesto instead of just plain chopped Basil (which is still my wife’s favorite).  I actually liked how the pasta came out with the pesto, but for an overall fresh simple dish I think I will stay with just chopped basil. (Although I may mix my pasta with pesto before serving the clams)

So by now y
our water is boiling and now you throw in a dash of sea salt, to help season the pasta...well actually you throw the salt in so that the water is like the Mediterranean. …sigh.....stir your pasta, set the timer for 11 minutes (or the recommended time for your brand), we want the pasta Al Dente, you have teeth, use them. Pasta should be chewed. Now get your large skillet or Sauté pan, and pour in the Olive oil, over a high heat place your garlic, clams, pesto or basil, and crushed red pepper into the pan and cover. 
As the clams cook they will steam open, as they open all the wonderful natural juices will mix with the olive oil and spices turning your kitchen into an aromatic wonderland. Keep an eye on your clams, they may be done opening a minute or two before the pasta and that's ok, just turn off the heat and let them sit covered in the pan. Drain your pasta, place into pasta bowls, divide up your clams and then the broth from the pan. Now sprinkle with some good grated Romano cheese ( don't ever ask for cheese for your clams in Italy, they will think you have no idea how to eat), sprinkle some parsley over top to make it look pretty, ( if you have a very good bottle of extra virgin olive oil, drizzle a little over the top, the flavor and aroma from the fresh Olive oil will just add to the experience)
Serve immediately with a nice crusty bread (and extra grated cheese if your like me) and just enjoy this culinary masterpiece, completely in less than 30 minutes.

Now wasn't that a treat, thanks again Chef Dennis :-)

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  1. Chef Dennis, you have a gorgeous blog! I know this would make my husband very happy with the clams. It looks and sounds perfect.

  2. Hi Rebecca
    thanks so much for the opportunity to do a guest post for you!

  3. Hi Chef dennis,
    what a fascinating story of shells and venice! The recipe looks every bit the gourmmet it is supposed to be :)

    Thanks rebecca for this one :)

  4. Mouthwatering clams. Last year when I was in Venice, I tried plenty of seafood but somehow missed out on this. Maybe next time..if there is a next time to Venice.

  5. Chef Dennis,

    You always make my favorite dishes! Seriously, Linguine with Clams is one of my favorite meals (see Foodbuzz profile for proof).

    Another great post!


  6. Dennis, this is a stunning dish! And you already know how much I love your blog and students:)

  7. I understand how you were captivated by Venice, and the wonderful food to be experienced in Italy, one of my favourite countries.

    This dish is so simple but looks and sounds superb. Unfortunately, in my neck of the woods, Oklahoma, fresh seafood is virtually impossible to come by. Oh hum!

  8. Delicious! Thanks, Chef Dennis and Rebecca for sharing :)

  9. Dear Chef Dennis, thank you for sharing your recipe! I can easily imagine how awesome the pasta tastes, absorbing all the flavours of the clams.

    My thanks also goes to Rebecca, who connects us with her deep passion for food :)

  10. Another gorgeous recipe Dennis and I can see why your wife would love this! I love the touch of red pepper and Romano cheese. Thanks for including tips on buying clams and handling them properly once you get them home!

    Thank you Rebecca for graciously inviting Dennis to share his talent and expertise on your lovely blog :)

  11. Chef Dennis
    I love your work, another winner ♥

  12. love chef Dennis's blog! Imagine cooking for so many. Great dish!

  13. Chef Dennis, the master cook of the day! Such wonderful & delicious clam recipe you're sharing with us today. Yummm..... Great post! Hope you're having a great time.
    Cheers, Kristy

  14. Man they look good - I love seafood. I so wish I could visit Venice, my husband went 3 times before we met and has never wanted to return!

  15. Hi Chef Dennis, My family love clams. Thanks for sharing this great post ;D

  16. Rebecca,

    Thanks for featuring Chef Dennis. And Chef Dennis, it's wonderful to see you here on Chow and Chatter.

    Thank you for your wife's incredible linguine with clam sauce. I love it updated. Clams are one of my husband's all time favorites. Cheers to you both.

  17. Great choice! Chef Dennis has a lovely blog with nice recipes and beautiful stories.

  18. Awesome choice of guest blogger! And Chef Dennis, great choice of pasta dish to share with us! Looks fantastic.

  19. Great Dish! A beautiful and satisfying meal!

  20. Great looking recipe, Dennis! And thanks for the good tips about handling clams--I never knew that I should be leaving them in an uncovered bowl in the refrigerator.

    Thanks, Rebecca and Chef Dennis!

  21. I'm now hoping for clams in the next delivery from my community supported fishery! Looks terrific.

  22. Oh Dennis, one of my favorite dishes ever. I've never made mine with pesto but what a great idea. I'll give it a try next time. I had a hankering for clams and maybe I'll make these this weekend instead of plain ol' steamers.

    Thanks for bringing me over to Rebecca's site. I can't wait to look around.

    Lots of yummy love,
    Alex aka Ma, What's For Dinner

  23. One of my all time favorite pasta dishes, I cheat and make white and red clam sauce and mix the two side by side, LOVE IT!

  24. Thanks to Rebecca for featuring an excellent Chef!
    Chef Dennis thanks to you for sharing such wonderful, stunning, simple yet delicious recipe with us!

  25. Mmmm, I love clams... my husband isn't big on them but I should make him try them again sometime, because this looks fantastic!

  26. Lovely blog, Chef Dennis!
    And I enjoyed your guest post with Rebecca! YUM.

  27. Hey Dennis & Rebecca,

    Yeah Chef, I would imagine that eating in Italy could change one's view on a lot of foods and cooking techniques. I felt the same way about agriculture after I left Spain, and I made that my study. I could just tell there was a huge difference in quality. Not 'chef quality or talent' but actual 'produce & food quality'.
    These clams sound so delicious by the way. I'll eat any type of clam, so, when I see some nice ones, I'm trying them this way!

  28. Dennis, what a great guest post! I love seafood and I sure love pesto sauce that you put instead of basil!

    Rebecca, this is my time to your site and I love it!

  29. Hi All thank again Chef Dennis and wow I am having the best day reading all the new food blogs

    Love Rebecca

  30. Rebecca, thanks for letting Dennis visit, we think he is a saint and his recipes are always as inspiring as this one.....

  31. great post Chef Dennis love the tips and what a great recipe, yum


  32. I just want to thank Rebecca once again for this opportunity!!
    And I especially want to thank all my wonderful friends for their kind comments and continued support!

  33. This looks wonderful as all of your dishes do Chef Dennis. My husband will be one happy guy when I prepare this for him:)

  34. beautiful post! I don't know which one of you to thanks more for the yummy grumbling coming from my tummy! GREG

  35. this is a terrific recipe! :) love those infused clams that brings out the flavour to this linguine dish! :)

  36. Thanks fro introducing Chef Dennis. Anything with pesto has to be a great recipe.



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