Empty beer bottles, bacon grease and bowls of spaghetti seem more at home in a frat house than a professional kitchen. Don't tell that to Michael Santoro, the chef and co-owner of The Mildred in Philadelphia. Santoro steams clams in a bath of beer and bacon before finishing with butter and adding strings of spaghetti. The result is a saline, smoky and virtually effortless bowl of pasta, ideal for serving to any dinner guest--not merely those of the frat variety.
Pasta with Clams, Bacon and Beer
Recipe adapted from Michael Santoro, The Mildred, Philadelphia, PA
Yield: 4 servings
Cook Time: 25 minutes
1 pound dried spaghetti or linguini
2 bacon strips, finely chopped
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 dozen clams, cleaned and scrubbed
⅓ cup canned diced tomatoes
1¾ cups lager-style beer (such as Kronenbourg 1664 or Heineken)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil, plus extra for serving
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the spaghetti. Cook according to the instructions until al dente. Drain through a colander and set aside.
2. While the pasta is cooking, start the bacon: In a large, deep skillet or braising pan set over medium heat, add the bacon. Cook until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the shallot and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Add the clams in an even layer and top with the tomatoes. Pour in the beer and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Cover the pan and steam until the clams begin to open, 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Reduce the heat to low and add the butter, sherry vinegar and basil. Stir to incorporate and once the butter is melted, add the cooked spaghetti and gently toss with the clams and sauce. Sprinkle with more basil and serve.