That’s not a metaphysical question. Nor is it (tonight) a question about wine. Rather, it is the second part to the question: which clam sauce do you prefer?
I’ve always been a white clam sauce guy. It’s something about the clean, briny flavors of clams, garlic, olive oil, and a little white wine. So, naturally, when I made the dish tonight, I chose red. I had a little leftover tomatoes in the refrigerator, and it just felt right this time.
An easy dish:
- chop finely a fat clove of garlic
- finely dice 1/2 jalapeño pepper
- scrub a dozen of the smallest fresh littleneck or manilla clams you can find
- sauté the garlic and clams in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over a medium high flame, with a cover on the pan
- add the diced pepper after a minute or two
- if the pan gets too hot (i.e. garlic starts to burn), add a little white wine (less than 1/4 cup), and turn the heat down slightly
- cook until the clams begin to open fully; remove the open clams to a bowl
- when all the clams are open and removed, there should be some of the clam juice in the pan; if not enough, add a bit of white wine
- add top quality Italian canned tomatoes (about 6-7 oz. or a quarter of a large can)
- cook uncovered until the tomatoes have concentrated into a thick sauce
- meanwhile boil about 1/4 lb. of best Italian dried spaghetti in salted water
- reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, and drain the spaghetti
- add pasta to the sauté pan with the sauce, and put in enough of the pasta water to make the sauce about the right consistency
- remove the clam meat from the shells, and put them in the pan, mixing into the sauce
- place in large pasta bowls, grind some fresh black pepper generously on top — serve
Now, Red or White….wine. Either will work. I had a glass of white (a Lugana), followed by a red (the rest of the Nebbiolo d’Alba). Mangia!!