With the new year and some time on my hands, I have been going through the closets and getting rid of stuff that I don’t use or is broke. Although I don’t consider myself a real pack rat, I do sometimes have trouble getting rid of stuff. I like to use things until they are worn out, or use something and be done with it (like a book) and pass it on. Just getting rid of something because I made a bad decision to buy it bothers me (ok, so I’m a cheapskate!). But something I like to do is get rid of old recipes (especially ones that aren't getting used anymore) and replace with new and better. Although there is some trial and error involved, it usually doesn’t contribute to the trash.
One recipe I have recently tossed is my old Linguine with Clam Sauce which (horrors) used Jack Cheese. The new version uses pancetta (Italian bacon), plus some red pepper flakes which makes it work with canned clams. Pancetta can be a bit hard to find, but you can freeze it (just like bacon), and use a slice or two at a time as needed. And don't hesitate to mess with the recipe! This also works with regular bacon, or with the addition of a handful of chopped spinach.
Linguine with Clams and Pancetta
½ pound linguine
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 oz pancetta, sliced and cut into ½ inch squares
2 shallots, minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 6 ½ oz cans chopped clams
1 cup white wine
¼ cup chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Put a large pot of water on to boil for pasta, when it comes to a boil, add salt and cook pasta. Goal is to have the sauce (below) ready to add the al dente pasta.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil (medium or medium high heat), add pancetta, cook until just starting to crisp. Add shallots, garlic, and crushed red pepper, cook about 3 minutes. Add clam juice and wine, bring to a boil and cook for a few more minutes at rapid boil. Add the clams, then add the cooked linguine (best just to take directly from the pasta pot with large tongs, ok if some pasta water comes along). If sauce is dry, add some more pasta water. Cook for another minute or so, then add parsley, pepper and additional salt if needed (taste first – you likely have enough salt from clams and pasta water).