Rossana Rossi's Red Clam Sauce

One of my dear friends, Rossana Rossi, had sent me (at my request) a delicious clam sauce. It is truly scrumptious. Now, in her recipe, fresh clams are used. If you don't want the bother or trouble of shucking fresh clams, I guess you can buy chopped or whole clams from a jar at the supermarket. But, I tell ya, it ain't the same. The taste and texture of fresh clams is unequal in this dish.

As to the type of clams used? There is a variety. You got Chowder clams that are used for (you guessed it) clam chowder. There are Cherrystone clams, not as large as chowder clams. You could say they're the second largest, and go great in a clam sauce. Then there Top Neck clams that are used mainly for clams casino and clams on the half shell. And, finally, Little Neck clams that can be used in a clam sauce as well as steamers. They are tiny and sweet.

Rossana says this is her personal recipe for clam sauce, and she invented it about a month ago while working on a "super tasty awesome tomato sauce." It's a "Dominican/Italian" recipe.


2 dozen Cherrystone clams, or 4 pounds Little Neck clams, scrubbed clean and picked over
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
2 tablespoons vinegar (preferably herb-infused)
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 whole cinnamon stick

1. In a large frying pan or skillet, heat olive oil. Add garlic and saute quickly (do not let the garlic burn). Add tomatoes, oregano, thyme, vinegar, rosemary and cinnamon stick. Lower heat and simmer about an hour or so (Rossana says she cooks her sauce for 2 hours).
2. While the tomato sauce is cooking, place about 1-inch water in a large saucepan, add clams and steam them open. Place shell-less clams in a plate and set aside. Save the water left in the saucepan. If you desire, once clams have cooled you can chop them before adding to the sauce, or you can leave them as is.
3. When the sauce is just about done, add the clams and clam water. Simmer until the flavors are blended. The trick is not to overcook the clams; just reheat.
4. Serve over any long-type pasta such as linguini, spaghetti, perciatelli, or fettuccine.
Yield: 6 servings or more

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