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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Cozze e Vongole alla Posillipo - Mussels and Clams in a Spicy Tomato Sauce

There is one last part of the Calamari and Sarde meal I had in Milan that I needed to recreate before feeling myself again.  We asked the owner if she had anything spicy to serve us, and since she didn't really have anything officially spicy on the menu, she had her husband cook up a mix of mussels and clams in a spicy tomato sauce that was so out of this world and seemingly simple that I absolutely had to make it at home.  It was so delicious, in fact, that I didn't get enough time to snap a photo of it before all of the hungry tired people started to dig in!  We had walked for over 10 hours that day to their defense.
I cook mussels quite often and clams not as often as I would like to, but I usually just do them simple French style, "Marini√®re," which does not mean "marinara" but just simply steamed with shallots, parsley, and finished off with some black pepper and served with fries.  I once did them on the plancha.. which was lovely, but I never in my life thought of making them with a spicy tomato sauce.  Why I have no idea...
Serves 4 as an appetizer or over pasta
500g (1lb) fresh mussels, cleaned and bearded
500g (1lb) fresh clams, scrubbed
5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
8 cloves garlic, 6 sliced and 2 grated
2 shallots, sliced (optional)
1 fresh red chile, sliced
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 can crushed san marzano tomatoes
juice from 1 lime
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
handful fresh basil, chopped
chopped flat leafed parsley for garnish
1.  In a large pot, heat 4 Tbsp of the olive oil on high along with the red pepper flakes.  Add the garlic and onion slices and the red chile slices.  Cook until onions are soft and garlic is fragrant.
2.  Add the white wine to all that lovely heat.  Swish around for 2 minutes, then add the can of tomatoes along with the oregano and lime juice.
3.  Simmer into a thick sauce.  No really, you want that sauce thick.  The mussels and clams release a lot of their inner selves which will make the sauce "saucy" again.
Turn the heat up, add the grated garlic along with the mussels and clams, stir around quickly, then cover and let "steam" for about 5-7 minutes, or until the open.  
4.  Uncover and bring the temperature down.  Stir in the basil and parsley.  Before serving, add the freshly ground black pepper and the last Tbsp olive oil for a nice finish.
Serve as is (as they do in restaurants) as an appetizer to share.. or as I did over some hot al dente linguine for a meal.

This craziness is so tingly I may have to make this spicy tomato sauce every single time I do mussels...

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