Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Linguine with Clams, Leeks, & Bacon

This is a nice twist to wake up the same old linguine and clams.

Yes. There are two leeks shown there.
Just use one to feed two people.
Live and learn.
Remove the root end and the darkest green part, split in half and rinse the dirt from between the layers of the leek. If your leek appears REALLY dirty as you are prepping it, slice it into half-moons and soak it in a cold water bath so the dirt falls to the bottom of the bowl.

Yes please.
That's about 2 slices split, but figure one to two slices per person.
(More if you know you're going to snack on it while cooking...)
Once the bacon has rendered its fat and become crispy, place it on a paper towel to drain and keep the fat in the pan.

Add the washed (and dried) chopped leeks to the bacon fat and allow to soften over medium heat, 5-7 minutes. Use only a pinch of salt to season as the bacon fat is salty.
Half way thru cooking, grate (or mince) two cloves of garlic into the mix.

If you want to let the leeks go a little farther into caramelizing, that would also be delicious with this combination of flavors. 
I was just in a hurry to eat, so mine only got to wilt.

After scrubbing your clams and letting them sit in cold salted water for 30 minutes to discharge their grit:
Cook the clams in a covered sauce pan with white wine and one bay leaf over medium-high heat 6-8 minutes, or until all the clams opened.
Give the pan a shake to make sure they have room to open.
Discard any unopened clams, as well as the bay leaf.

I remove the shells when I make this so eating it is easier, but if you want to keep them for presentation's sake, go for it.
Put your linguine, cooked 1 minute shy of the directions on the box, into the remaining white wine and clams and add in the cooked leeks and garlic mixture. Add a bit of chopped parsley or basil and a tablespoon of butter (or 2) and stir to combine.
Check your seasoning after a minute and then plate.

I top the dish with the cooked bacon as I hate soggy bacon, but really the bacon drippings make this dish as they impart all their smokey, porky goodness into the cooking leeks.
Without it you'd just be eating very onion-y pasta.
But I'd call this one a hit!

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