This dish is a staple at the Pardo family’s Christmas Eve (and many other times throughout the year). Francesca’s Grandmother used littleneck clams, which are less than 2 inches in diameter. They are more tender. —Francescap
4 to 6
little neck clams, scrubbed
garlic cloves, minced
dried chili pepper (small), crumbled or pinch of red pepper flakes
fresh clam juice, strained
dry white wine
flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped, plus whole leaves for garnish
Place the clams in a sink filled with cold water. Scrub the shells well with a coarse brush to remove any sand. Drain the water and refill the sink with clean water to soak the clams, repeating until the water remains clean.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil; salt generously. Add the linguini, and cook until slightly underdone, about 7 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining the pasta. Set both aside.
While the pasta water is boiling, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and chile pepper; cook until the garlic is very lightly browned. Add the clams, clam juice, and white wine, and raise the heat to high. Bring to a boil; cover, and cook, shaking occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, until the clams open. Stir in the parsley. Remove from heat, and transfer to a bowl, discarding any clams that have not opened; set aside.
Return the skillet to medium-high heat. Add the butter and let it melt. Add the clam mixture and linguine. Cook over medium-low heat until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the reserved pasta water a little at a time if the pasta is dry. Transfer to a large serving bowl, season with salt and pepper, and garnish with parsley.