Linguine with Clam Sauce

Linguine with Clam Sauce (a la Lucy McCool)


  • 5 dozen littleneck clams
  • Water (at least one cup)
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 8 garlic cloves, crushed (NOT DICED)
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup white wine
  • Salt
  • Crushed red pepper
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 1 Cup grated parmesan or parmigiano-reggian cheese


  • Clams:
    • Place clams in the sink and scrub them to remove sand, silt, etc.
    • Put them into a large sauté pan or skillet, one that has a lid that fits, and pour in enough water so that there’s at least an inch.
    • Cover the pan and bring it to a boil over medium heat.
    • Let boil long enough for the clams to open – begin checking at 4 minutes and remove whichever ones have opened. If, by 10 minutes there remains any stubbornly shut clams, throw them away.
    • Remember, you want them to boil for the least amount of time possible. The longer they cook, the tougher they become. Just cook them long enough so that they they open like they’re excited to be in the dish.
    • Remove  and let cool in a colander.
    • Pour the clam juice in the pan into a cup to keep for later.


  • Linguine: cook in boiling water and strain in colander. If you time it right, it should be done by the time you’re done with the sauce below.


  • Sauce:
    • Melt the butter over medium heat. Be careful not to let the pan get too hot, otherwise your butter will burn and look brown. The reason why there are no photos for this post is because the last couple of times I made this, my sauce didn’t look as white as it should. One reason was because I burnt my butter and the other reason was because I didn’t have white onion and used red. I promise, the next time I make it, I’ll do it right ad post a photo or two.
    • Saute the garlic until it browns. Important – remove the garlic. If you used crushed, which I’m sure  you did, the oils from the garlic has now nicely flavored the butter. If you used diced, well, it didn’t.
    • After removing the garlic, sauté the onion until translucent.
    • Stir in the parsley, when wilted, add in the wine and allow the alcohol to cook off (just a couple of minutes; you’ll be able to tell when you can no longer smell that alcohol smell).
    • Stir in a cup of the reserved clam juice and bring to a gentle simmer.


  • Putting it all together – you can do this two ways.
    • One: When pasta is done and drained, add to the sauce and stir well to coat. You can add in more of the clam juice if needed. Stir in the cheese. Top wih the clams still in the shell.
    • Two: Remove the cooled clams from their shells and add them to the simmering sauce before you dump in the pasta and cheese.
    • The benefit of the first is it looks pretty, the downside is it’s harder work to eat and sometimes we don’t look so pretty digging out the clams.
    • The benefit of the second way is you can eat it in a more dignified manner, but it doesn’t look as pretty o the plate.

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