Steaned Clams in Sparkling Wine
In certain regions of Italy where grapes and olives are grown, celebrations are held at the time of the harvest of new olive oil and the first of the wine. Apart from drinking the new wine and tasting the oil with grilled bread, they make this savory recipe for pasta cooked in white or red wine. This aromatic pasta is naturally “wine glazed” and finished with olive oil, so be sure to use a high quality of olive oil.
Steaming naturally salty clams (and mussels) with sparkling wine adds a delectable sweet note to the broth. Serve them with crusty garlic bread.
Using all dark meat chicken with full-bodied red wine, shallots and mushrooms makes a hearty dish to serve during the cold weather. Serve rice or pasta with a green vegetable as sides to complete the menu for both family and guests. Bon appétit!
Steamed Clams in Sparkling Wine
(Serves 4 to 6)
2 pounds cherrystone or Manila clams, scrubbed and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 to 4 shallots, minced
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
1 bottle sparkling wine (Prosecco, Blanc de Blanc, or domestic champagne)
About 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian Parsley
Scrub each clam under cold running water with a firm scrub brush. Place in a bowl of cold water and refrigerate until just before cooking.
In a large skillet or saucepan with a lid, coat the bottom with olive oil and sauté the shallots until aromatic, about 2 or 3 minutes. Season shallots with pepper; add bay leaf, sparkling wine, and clams. Cover the pan and bring to a boil, cook about 4 minutes, then check the clams. With a slotted spoon, lift out the clams as they open and transfer them to a bowl and tent with foil to keep warm. Discard any unopened clams. Bring the cooking broth to a boil and reduce about 4 minutes. Strain the cooking liquid through a coffee filter lined strainer set over a bowl or pitcher, swirl a few drops of extra virgin olive oil in the sauce and pour it over the clams. Divide among warm soup bowls, garnish with parsley and serve at once.
Penne with White Wine
Adapted from “Pasta Modern: New & Inspired Recipes from Italy” by Francine Segan
(Serves 4 to 5)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bottle dry fruity white wine (Soave or Pinot Grigio)
1 bay leaf
1 pound penne or rigatoni
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 to 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, preferably first growth
Aged Pecorino or Reggiano Parmesan cheese for shaving
In a large saucepan over moderate heat, coat the bottom with oil and sauté garlic until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Add wine and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Add the pasta; lower the heat to a “low” boil, and cook, loosely covered, until the wine is absorbed and the pasta al dente, about 20 minutes. The wine will naturally “glaze” the pasta. Set the pan off the heat and stir olive oil, salt, and pepper into the pasta. Taste and adjust the seasonings according to personal preference.
Transfer to warmed soup plates and top with shaved cheese at the table. Serve alone or with your favorite entrée.
Chicken Thighs with Mushrooms, Shallots and Red Wine
(Serves 4 to 6)
6 to 8 chicken thighs (with or without legs)
Optional: Wondra flour for dusting
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Canola oil for sautéing
12 shallots, peeled, whole or halved into even sizes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound white mushrooms, washed, whole or halved into even sizes
About 2 teaspoons marjoram or more to taste
About 4 cups full bodied red wine (1 bottle)
4 to 5 stems (no leaves) parsley
1 small bay leaf
1 carrot, peeled and halved lengthwise
Optional: good quality chicken stock
Chopped fresh flat leaf parsley for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Wash and pat chicken dry with paper towels.
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. (If using flour, add salt and pepper to flour, roll chicken in the flour, and tap off the excess.)
In a heavy casserole over moderate high heat, with a lid large enough to hold chicken and vegetables, coat the bottom with oil and add chicken, and brown until medium/dark brown on the first side, about 5 minutes. Turn and brown the other side, about 4 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and continue until all the chicken is browned. Add shallots to the pan and sauté about 3 to 4 minutes, reduce the heat, add garlic and sauté until aromatic about 1 minute. With slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to the chicken. Raise the heat to high, add the mushrooms, season with salt and marjoram and sauté stirring constantly until they “squeak” in the pan, about 4 minutes. Return the chicken and shallots to the casserole with the mushrooms, evenly arranging meat and vegetables. Add wine, tuck parsley, bay leaf, and carrot into the liquid, cover, and bring to a boil. Place casserole in the oven and bake until the chicken juices run clear when pierced with a meat fork and the meat is tender, about 45 minutes.
Can be made ahead and reheated. Remove bay leaf, parsley stems and carrot before serving. Sprinkle with parsley and serve at once.
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