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After experiencing Brodetto di Vongole e Porri (Tiny Clams in a White Wine Broth with Leeks) in Paul Bartolotta’s Ristorante di Mare kitchen at Wynn Las Vegas, I know now what clam dishes have always intended to be. Chef Bartolotta’s clams recipe is minimalist; the flavors are delicate with just the right pop of garlic. When I experienced Chef Bartolotta’s Brodetto di Vongole, I became a clam lover! For added instruction and entertainment, watch Wanna Whole Lotta Bartolotta.
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pinch peperoncino (red chili flakes)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)
1 cup leeks (medium dice)
1 cup dry white wine
3 pounds tiny clams (manila)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)
2 tablespoons parsley (coarsely chopped)
Sea salt (to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper
6 slices ciabatta/peasant bread crostini (sliced thick; 1 inch by 2 inches by 1/2 inch)
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Wash clams carefully.
Cut leek in half lengthwise and wash carefully to remove all sand and dirt. Cut yet again each half lengthwise, then cut across to obtain medium dice, using only the white and light yellow part of the heart of the leeks.
In a medium saute pan heat the extra-virgin olive oil with the optional butter, leeks and a pinch of peperoncino. Saute over medium heat, being careful not to brown the leeks.
Add the white wine and clams and cover to steam open the clams.
When all the clams are open, remove the lid and reduce all the alcohol from the wine. Do not overcook the clams! Chef Bartolotta’s tip: “If you have some [clams] that are stubborn, leave them on, but as soon as they’re open — off the fire!” Overcooked clams have a “rubbery” texture, and nobody enjoys eating rubber.
Meanwhile, grill the peasant bread and rub with the raw garlic clove, seasoning the bread with sea salt and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Set aside.
Check the seasoning of the clam broth to ensure the alcohol taste is gone.
Adjust seasoning with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Stir in remaining optional unsalted butter and chopped parsley.
Serve immediately in soup plates with the grilled crostini and top with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.