This is, by far, my favorite incarnation of Linguine with Clam Sauce!
I’ve played with these basic ingredients for years and finally settled on what you see below. Please trust me and do not omit the anchovy fillets; that’s right, even if you “hate” anchovies please use them… you will not taste the anchovies; heck, you won’t even see the anchovies… they will completely “dissolve” into the sauce.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 anchovy fillets
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoons capers, drained
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 ounces clams, canned (reserve liquid)
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons parsley, flat leafed, chopped
8 ounces linguine
Put your pasta water on the stove and bring to a boil…
Separate out 5 anchovy fillets
Finely chop about 1/4 of a large onion – about 1/2 cups worth
Thinly slice garlic – 2 large or 4 small or however much you like!
Drain about a tablespoon of capers and set aside – I’ve been known to double that amount based on personal preference.
Measure out 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes – again, adjust according to your personal taste, but don’t over do it; you’ll simply overpower the clam sauce.
Open the can of clams and set aside – do not discard the liquid!
Measure out a 1/2 cup of white wine and set aside
Cut a tablespoon size pat of salted butter – please do not use margarine!
Coarsely chop a small bunch of flat leaf parsley – about 2 tablespoons and set aside.
Making the Sauce
Adjust your timing based on your skill set, but I usually start the sauce about 10 minutes before I put my pasta in the pot, giving me a total of 22 minutes cooking time for the sauce.
Add about 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive oil to a COLD sauce pan.
Spread out your anchovy fillets so they have plenty of room in the pan and turn on the heat to medium-low… you basically want to poach the anchovy fillets in the olive oil. If they start to fry, your heat is to high.
After about 5 minutes, add the garlic and onions to the oil and raise the heat to medium.
Sauté for about 2-3 minutes until translucent – you’re not looking for brown, you’re looking for soft.
At this point add the red pepper flakes and the capers.
Raise the heat to medium-high and continue to Sauté – Make sure you don’t take it too far, but you’re looking for the capers, garlic and onions to start browning – about 2-3 minutes
Add the white wine and reserved liquid from the canned clams, but not the clams.
Continue to cook over medium-high heat to reduce.
Bring it Home
This is the most critical part, so keep an eye on the sauce – I like to use a wooden spatula to stir every now and again over the next 10 minutes or so. Run the spatula across the center of the pan and watch for how long it takes for the sauce to fill behind it.
You don’t want the “stripe” to stay dry, but you also don’t want the sauce to instantly fill it in… shoot for something in between and then adjust the next time you make the sauce.
Once you get it to the right consistency, add the clams and cook for 1 more minute.
Remove the pan from the heat; add the chopped parsley and the pat of butter, stirring constantly until the butter is completely incorporated.
Drain the linguine and add it to your Sauce in the sauce pan.
Toss to coat well and serve with a nice glass of your favorite dry white and some crusty bread.
Serve and enjoy!