spaghetti with white clam sauce: aka, thomas keller is trying to kill us

April 27th, 2008 · 804 Comments

the people over at ‘serious eats’ may have their own version of this (and in multi-parts), which i do find amusing, but so you know, i simply can not STAND this woman – her food will never touch my culinary radar, the mere thought of possibly cooking any of her unappealing southern fat-bomb recipes repels me beyond belief – which unfortunately conjures up her tv persona, which then immediately throws me into apoplexy, causing me to try and scratch my eyes out…  but hey, that’s just me.

pd on crack while her followers drink the lard laced kool-aid

but back to reality.  thomas, i love.  especially after my ‘per se’ experience and watching both his charlierose interviews.  the man is a brilliant chef and well, i applaud everything he stands for.  and i am absolutely sure that tk is voting democratic – hoping for obama and that he’s a james taylor fan and loves puppies. 

but still as wonderful as i know keller must be, if you make his pasta with white clam sauce, you could possibly die of a heart attack – on the spot.  but dear readers, know this – you will die happy. and well, not everyone can say that. but then again, who could really gauge this, as you’d be having to poll dead people, and that right there would be seemingly one hell of an unpleasant task. 

for the record, i made this dish two nights in a row.  but i have long history with tempting fate…

awhile back i read french laundry at home’s post about this dish and i knew i’d be making this one recipe from that beautiful book – if only this one.  because if you follow carol’s cooking adventures you will plainly see that tk’s food is a 10 on the difficulty scale – and well,  i can’t do 10’s.  way too many pots and pans to clean up which goes against my personal at-home-cooking principles.  but carol promised me this was easy and i had 3 lbs of clams in my refrigerator because i had been to costco on a friday and it was their SEAFOOD ROAD SHOW’ weekend which always, but always cracks me up – as costco’s ‘seafood road show’ is not much of a ‘show on the road’ at all, and more of a dead crustaceans on ice kinda thing.

so… back to the pasta.  and not just any pasta – but the king of all pastas… this pasta is to die from – i mean, for.  and it is quite simply – 8 ounces (1 3/4 cup) of flour, 1 egg, 6 yolks, 1 T milk, 1.5 t olive oil.  wait… what’s that you say?  7 egg yolks for 8 ounces of flour?  am i kidding, you ask?  well, thomas says so.  and thomas knows.  so stop asking questions and slowly incorporate your flour into the egg mixture, forming the dough into a ball, lightly flour your workspace – and then knead and knead some more – about 20 solid minutes worth.  then wrap the dough tightly in plastic and let it rest for an hour.  by the way, michael ruhlman suggests that you do this in a bowl – and so do i.  because then there is no worry of the inevitable "egg breaking through the flour dam" fiasco, with the entire sticky mess spilling out onto your black suede puma’s which would be a total drag.  anyway, i happen to have a big flat bottomed glass bowl and it is now for pasta making. 

and then just make your pasta.  see how i threw that out so flippantly?  here, let me say it again.  then just make your pasta.  cause hey, i now make pasta.  often.  and it is so fun.  so satisfying.  so beautiful and oh so very amazing and even more than any of that – it tastes freakin’ great.  it is so very worth the effort.  and you get to burn tens of calories kneading the dough.  so the first bite of whatever you’re making?  it doesn’t count.  and if you stop there, you will be even.  just one bite and then push away from the table.  that’s the secret,  you’re welcome.

this was for a double batch…

on my want list?  a pasta rack…

a tangle of yolky pasta goodness…

oh, and one small thing.  i bought the kitchen aid pasta rollers and they totally ROCK.  i refuse to clamp and crank and i am willing to shell out the bucks in the name of fresh pasta.  $135+ at your retail dealer – i paid $81 on ebay including shipping.  now i’ve got 3 options and 9 thicknesses (coincidentally, the same as the shimano gears on my bike), the sheets, spaghetti and fettuccine.  i am so loving my kitchen aid mixer these days more than ever…

and then you make the clam sauce.  if you like white clam sauce then all i can say is that this is the quintessential recipe.  throw away the others.  embrace the butter and have yourself a culinary orgasm.

spaghetti with white clam sauce
dared to be adapted from
‘the french laundry cookbook’ by thomas keller

keller makes this into pretty twirly things in a clam shell atop a bed of heated rock salt.  i, on the other hand, do not.  i double the recipe and then make a trough of it and you stick your face into the bowl and eat.  or… just serve in individual bowls and use a fork.  either way.  i am honestly not here to judge you…

1 head of garlic
2 t butter
a sprinkle of sea salt

36 little neck clams – soaked in water for several hours changing the water a few times
4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled and slightly crushed
2 large shallots – roughly chopped
4 sprigs of thyme
4 bay leaves
1 cup of crisp dry white wine such as sauvignon blanc or muscadet

roasted garlic puree (from recipe above)
reserved clam broth (from recipe above)
24 T (12 oz) of butter cut into small pieces (fyi – i used 9 oz)
1 T of white wine vinegar

1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 T fresh thyme leaves
black pepper

heat your oven to 300 f.  take a sheet of tin foil and double it and place the butter on the bottom, flattening to act as a base for the garlic.  put the entire head of garlic unpeeled onto the butter and sprinkle with sea salt.  fold the foil into a tight bundle and bake for 90 minutes.

while that’s happening, put the clams, garlic, shallots, thyme, bay leaves and wine into a stainless pan that can hold the clams in one layer.  cover and bring to boil over medium heat, moving the clams around to ensure even cooking.  remove the clams as they open which should be within about 5 minutes.  discard any clams that do not open.  allow broth to cool slightly and strain through a chinois.  put the broth into a saucepan.

remove clams from their shells and set aside.

when the roasted garlic is out of the oven and has cooled, remove the garlic from it’s skin and puree. i got great results by using my garlic press.  it shot out the roasted garlic perfectly and i’d just throw out the skin and do it again until all the cloves were gone.  this left me with about 2 T of the most amazing roasted garlic…

with the clam broth on medium heat, whisk the roasted garlic into the broth and then whisk in the butter piece by piece, adding the next piece only when the last piece is incorporated.  season with the white vinegar and add clams back to the clam sauce.  check to see if it needs any salt.  (mine didn’t.)

if your pasta is freshly made, cook it for 2 or 3 minutes in boiling salted water.  drain, reserving a cup of the pasta water (just in case).  put the pasta in a big bowl and toss with the sauce adding the parsley and thyme leaves and black pepper.  toss and serve adding any pasta water if needed.

as carol said to me, "it’s a dish that’s sooo easy and makes me very happy and there is no way you can eat this and not smile with every bite". and that right there dear readers, is what really good food is all about.  

that and the fact that cooking this dish for your significant lover could totally get you laid…


Tags: pasta · seafood

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