Kitchen Culture: Cider-Steamed Clams with Linguine

by | Jan 16, 2015

As much as I love the weather in my home of the Pacific Northwest—sun and my skin play as well together and Kim Jong Un and free speech—at times the dreariness and rain puddles can begin to wear on me and occasionally I long for the days when I can fill a car with my friends and cooler, and head down to the beach. At the right beaches at the right time of year, we can even catch our own clams and roast them on a bonfire right by the water, which makes for the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Until then, my recipe for Cider-Steamed Clams with Linguine will just have to tide me over. For this dish, I like to use Drytown, California’s Common Cider Company Lemon Saison cider. The saison-influence here (the saison yeast used) gives the cider a very summery fresh and clean taste with the bright citrus notes of the lemon and a refreshing dry apple finish, all of which add complexity and character to what would otherwise be a simple pasta dish. If you’re having trouble finding Common’s Lemon Saison, you can substitute any saison- or farmhouse-style cider and add another ½ teaspoon of lemon zest for similar results.

Yields: 4 servings
Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
¼ cup cider
2 pounds littleneck or manila clams, scrubbed
12 ounces linguine
5 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked and chopped
5 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
Lemon wedges for garnish (optional)

Heat olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic, red pepper flakes and lemon zest, cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes, add cider and bring to a boil while keeping the heat at medium.

Once liquid reduces by half, about 2 minutes, add clams, increase heat to medium-high and cover pot (preferably with a transparent lid).

Shake covered pot occasionally while clams steam and continue to cook until most if not all clams have opened, about 5-10 minutes. Discard any clams that do not open, set pot with clams aside.

Cook linguine in a separate pot of salted water until al dente, according to the package’s directions. Once cooked, reserve 1 cup of the starchy liquid from the pot and drain the rest.

In the clam pot, combine pasta, bacon, tomatoes and ½ cup of the reserved pasta liquid. Gently toss with tongs until well mixed and add more of the pasta liquid until desired sauce consistency is achieved.

Serve in bowls, sprinkle parsley on top and add a lemon wedge on the side.

Photo by Grace Schrater.

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