Tags: seafood

Always On Hand Item # 2: Bread Crumbs

This is my first kitchen memory. I am about four years old, standing on a lime green stool tucked between the kitchen countertop and my Grandfather’s shoulders,which are hunched over to my pip-squeak height.  My Pop-op has covered the counter with tea cloths and placed the heels of last Sunday’s bread on top of them.  With his hands he crushes the quarter loaves into dust and then opens his palms wide as though he just performed a magic trick.  This makes me smile, giggle and eventually roar in voluminous laughter.

My paws are not quite as hefty as my Grandfather’s were, so I rely on a food processor for home made breadcrumbs.  My only preference is that the crumbs be unflavored, I can season them up later depending on what I am making.  For the recipe below, I turned plain old’ crumbs into a crunchy, seasoned oreganata to top some  locally caught fluke a friend of ours dropped off after a particularly fruitful catch.  The oreganata can also be used to top shrimp, clams, roasted tomatoes, or broccoli florets just to name a few, use your imagination, and as always enjoy.

For the Breadcrumbs

Any bread with do, though we typically use leftover loaves of seedless Italian or semolina.

Pre heat oven to 200 degrees- Even if the loaves are very dry and stale I usually like to let them sit in the oven for thirty minutes or so to really dry them out.

Using a food processor crumble as much of the bread by hand as you can to break up the pieces a bit, pulse on low until you have the texture of coarse sand.

If you don’t have a food processor you can also use a hand grater to crumb the loaves- Works just as well and really builds up those forearms.

For the Oreganata

Ingredients:

½ cup plain dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Zest of half lemon *Optional but especially good if using on seafood*
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
Sea Salt to taste

Preparation:

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a medium sized bowl combine the breadcrumbs with the herbs, lemon zest and olive oil, using your fingers of a fork to ensure that the breadcrumbs are evenly moistened.

Over medium heat in a non stick frying pan toast the breadcrumbs for three to five minutes, stirring constantly and be careful not to burn.

Your oreganata is now ready to top a fresh piece of fluke or anything else your heart and stomach desires.

 

Linguine with White Clam Sauce

 

Linguine with white clam sauce was on the menu  every single Friday of my adolescent life.  Slippery noodles smothered in garlic and olive oil and then topped with a generous serving of fresh littleneck clams.  The only accompaniment was a large piece of warm Italian bread, torn at the table by hand, to sop up all the briny broth that collected in the bottom of the bowl.

In the summer, the sweetness of the clams is enough to knock you over.  Close the grill for a night and celebrate the coming weekend with an enormous bowl, enjoy.

Ingredients

1 pound Linguine
4 cloves garlic-thinly sliced
1 yellow onion finely chopped
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 dozen little neck clams *CLEANED*
1 bottle clam juice
1 pint chopped fresh clams
1 head of broccoli rabe (optional but delicious)
Freshly torn parsley, Basil and oregano
2 tablespoons butter to finish the sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of red pepper flakes

Preparation

For the clams- you will need to soak in ICE COLD water, in twenty minute increments, 2-3 times in order to ensure they spit out every grain of sand.  Once this is done rinse under water and set aside in a colander.

For the broccoli rabe- (if using) bring a large pot of sea salted water to boil and add the trimmed head of broccoli rabe.  Cook until tender about 8 minutes and transfer to an ice bath * a medium sized bowl placed in a larger sized bowl floating with ice and cold water-this will stop the cooking and ensure perfectly tender broccoli rabe.

…OK lets get going

In a Dutch oven or large, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat, add the olive and onion and sauté until softened, add the thinly sliced garlic and continue to cook for a minute longer.  At this point you can add the chopped clams and clam juice and simmer for ten-twelve minutes.

Put your pasta water up to boil with plenty of sea salt.  Cook the linguine according to package directions, reserving 2 cups of cooking liquid.

Next take your extra, squeaky clean whole clams and add to the pot cover and continue to cook until all the shells are open.  Discard any that do not open.  Now if using, you can add the cooked broccoli rabe and sauté with the clam sauce.

Because you are an awesome multi-tasker, your linguine should be perfectly al dente by now so go ahead and  add the cooked pasta to the clam sauce and toss well.  You can now add any salt, pepper, red pepper and the two tablespoons of butter to the dish.  Continue to toss the linguine adding the parsley, basil and oregano.  If you find that there is not enough broth and the pasta is dry, slowly add the reserved pasta cooking liquid one tablespoon at a time until moist.  I actually prefer mine drenched in clam juice and sauce, almost soupy! Enjoy with a nice glass of wine and a large piece of warm Italian bread torn right there at the table.