'Unschooled Cooking'


Posted: Friday, February 26, 2010

I had thought about busting out the German Potato Salad this month, but in the spirit of the Winter Olympics, it just didn't seem right. As I begin here, the United States is comfortably ahead of the Germans in the medal count - but that wasn't the case a few days ago.

Alas, the German Potato Salad will have to wait. Instead, this recipe will be for something decidedly more American-feeling: Pasta with white clam sauce!

Hey, c'mon, at least it doesn't have the word "German" in the title.

Pasta with white clam sauce

What you'll need for this one:

• Minced clams (the recipe I originally used calls for three 6-ounce cans; I have wound up just using the entire large can. I'd give you specifics but I used the last can the other night and failed to write it down - but it's big. Like 40-ounces big.)

• Olive oil (⅓ cup or so)

• Garlic (up to you - but several cloves, chopped)

• Parsley (fresh is great, but the dried stuff works, too)

• Pepper

• Flour

• Parmesan cheese (grated)

• White wine (probably about a cup)

• Pasta

What's great about this recipe is it's completely fluid. You can alter things as you see fit. And unless you do something completely insane, it'll still turn out just fine. First, strain the clams, but set aside some of the clam juice to use. Quite honestly, I've found that I almost always wind up needing more liquid - so I'd save most of that juice. Just in case.

Before you forget, get the noodles going. The sauce doesn't take that long.

Heat the olive oil up in a skillet, add the garlic and parsley. Once you like how that looks, add the clams. Cook that combo up for a few minutes and then toss in pepper to taste. Then it's the flour. Here's where it can get interesting. You want the flour to mix in, obviously, and it's going to thicken. What you don't want at the end is a gooey mess. So, once the flour is mixed in, be generous enough with the white wine and clam juice to give yourself a sauce that has enough liquid to actually bring to a boil. After you have it at a boil, it's just a matter of a minute or two before you are finished. Again, up to you when that moment comes.

Out of spaghetti noodles? That's cool. I used lasagna noodles earlier this week, and I'm not kidding. Out of white wine? No sweat. I used sake with the lasagna batch. Seriously. Oh, and I was out of Parmesan, too. It wasn't the most prepared test run, okay? We had some nice English cheddar.

And it tasted great!

The final step is combining your pasta with the sauce and the grated cheese. Don't worry about an art form here, either. Just get it done.

Assuming you haven't done something too wacky, it's practically fool proof. And even those second place German Olympians will enjoy the end result. Just don't ask me how to say anything in German, because the only phrase I know is, "Will you be my German grandmother?"

• Chester Duke Carson was born and raised in Juneau. He graduated in 2004 from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore., and is scheduled to wed his fiancée in Orange County (don't you dare call it. "L.A.") in 2011. He also considers himself to be a bona fide fantasy football guru.

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