10 cloves garlic, smashed
5 dozens little neck clams, scrubbed under cold running water
2 cups white wine
2 pinchs large of crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound linguine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley, plus additional for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves, plus additional for garnish
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, optioinal
Kosher salt (I did not need any)
Coat a large saute pan (I used a 6 quart stock pot, as she does on the show) with olive oil and add 5 garlic cloves and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Bring pan to medium high heat and cook until garlic becomes golden brown. (Meg note: I happen to love garlic and flipped the smashed garlic over to brown on the other side, wanting to get as much garlic flavor as I could.) When garlic is golden brown and very aromatic, remove it and discard (it has fulfilled its garlic destiny). Put 3 1/2 dozen clams in the pan and add the wine. Cover the pan a bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover and cook until the clams open up, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the clams from the pan and set aside. Pour the cooking liquid into a measuring cup and set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium heat. (Meg note: I usually salt my pasta water, but the cooking liquid was on the salty side so I skipped, figuring it is easier to add the salt in later than take it out.)
Mince remaining smashed garlic cloves. Coat same saute pan again with olive oil and add garlic and another pinch of red pepper flakes. Bring pan to medium-high heat and cook garlic for a minute or two (don’t let it get brown). Add the remaining raw clams and reserved clam cooking liquid to the pan. When adding the liquid, be sure to check for sand and grit in the bottom, you may lose the last couple of tablespoons of juice but that is better than sand in your pasta! (Meg note: even though I followed the directions, next time I might strain the juice through a paper towel lined sieve to make sure all of the sand and grit is out, before adding it back into the pan.) Cover and cook until the clams open.
While clams are cooking, drop the linguine into the salted boiling water and cook until the pasta is very “al dente” – maybe a minute or so less than the box directs.
Remove the cooked clams in their shells from the pan and keep warm. Add the butter and cooked clams that have been removed from their shells back to the pan. Bring the liquid to a boil and toss in the cooked pasta and the herbs. Cook the pasta together with the sauce until the sauce clings to the pasta. Turn off the heat and toss in the grated parmigian-reggiano, if using. Stir vigorously to combine.
Divide the pasta into serving dishes and garnish with clams that are still in their shells and some chopped herbs.
Note: Purchase shellfish that’s sold in mesh bags. If you buy clams or mussels that are in plastic bags, you may be getting dead shellfish. The plastic makes them suffocate.