This dish is quite easy to make and is absolutely delicious!
It is important to have a very large sauté pan with a tight-fitting lid for the preparation of the live Littleneck Clams in this wonderful dish.
1-pound of Linguine Pasta (Fresh linguine with black pepper in the pasta dough will add a nice flavor for this dish. (For the recommended recipe for the Pasta Dough, just click on that recipe title.) Alternatively, you can purchase a high-quality fresh linguine, which you can find in many grocery stores in the refrigerated section (Buitoni is a good brand, if it is available). A quality, dried linguine -- such as Barilla -- can also be used.
2 ounces of Pancetta, in chunks that are fried in a sauté pan or skillet until they are crispy
1 ten-ounce can of Whole Baby Clams
2-¼ pounds of live Littleneck Clams (the larger clams are preferred, so this is about 12 clams), cleaned and scrubbed
2 tablespoons of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
5 tablespoons of Butter
⅓ cup of Shallots (approximately 2 large shallots), finely chopped
5 cloves of Garlic, minced
¾ cup of dry White Wine such as a Chardonnay
¼ cup of Italian Parsley (flat-leaf parsley), finely chopped
1 teaspoon of dried Italian Herbs
1 teaspoon of Red Pepper Flakes
1 teaspoon of Lemon Zest
1 tablespoon of Lemon Juice
2 tablespoons of Chives, chopped
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
Heat a large stock pot of salted water (about three-quarters full of water with 2-3 tablespoons of salt) to a boil. While the water is heating to a boil, heat a very large sauté pan (note that it is important to have a tight-fitting lid for this sauté pan) over a medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil as well as 3 tablespoons of butter. Once the oil and butter are heated (be careful not to burn the butter), add the shallots as well as the garlic and sauté them for about a minute. Add the wine, the parsley, the dried Italian seasoning, the red pepper flakes and the littleneck clams. Cover the sauté pan with the tight-fitting lid, and simmer for about 8-10 minutes until the clams open. By 10 minutes all of the clams should be opened; discard any clams that are not open. Remove the sauté pan from the heat, and remove the opened clams. Add the can of baby clams (including the liquid in the can) to the sauté pan, along with the pancetta as well as the remaining butter and return it to a low heat. The stock pot with water should now be boiling. Add the linguine to the water and cook it until the linguine is “al dente”; it will cook a bit more in the sauce, so it is important that it is a bit underdone at this point. (Note: the length of time for cooking will vary significantly depending on whether you are using homemade pasta, which will only take a few minutes, or store-bought dried pasta, which will need to be cooked based on the directions on the packaging.)
Before you drain the linguine in a colander, reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water in case this water is needed for the sauce. Then drain the linguine in a colander, and add the linguine to the sauté pan. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and stir the linguine – cooking it on a medium heat -- and allow the linguine to finish cooking for another 1-2 minutes. Then add the large littleneck clams back into the sauté pan and warm it for another 1-2 minutes. If there is not enough liquid in the sauté pan, add some of the reserved cooking liquid to the sauté pan. Transfer the linguine to a serving bowl, sprinkle with the chives, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.