Pasta with Clams, Garlic-Parsley Butter and Toasted Breadcrumbs
- 1/2 lb pasta (spaghetti is best, but any shape will work!)
- 1 slice pancetta, cut into tiny dice
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 lb clams
- 1 stick butter, cut into 1 Tbsp cubes
- Juice of one lemon
- 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs, lightly toasted
- 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Cook your pasta in boiling salted water. If you cook y our pasta ahead be sure to save 1 cup of the starchy cooking water!
In a large pan, render the pancetta over low heat until crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta from the pan, leaving only the fat behind. Reserve the pancetta bits in a small bowl. Add the sliced garlic to the pancetta fat and sweat until soft and fragrant. Add the water and clams and cover the pot with a large lid. Steam the clams until they have just opened. Remove the clams and reserve them in a small bowl with a clean rag over the top. Turn up the heat under your pot and reduce the liquid in the pan down until only a thick, syrupy layer remains. At the point you can start emulsifying your butter in. Add one cube of butter at a time, whisking constantly in one direction until the butter is completely melted and looks creamy. Then add a second cube of butter and repeat until all the butter is emulsified. Finish with lemon juice to taste and salt and pepper as needed.
Transfer the pasta from the water to the sauce, mixing well over low heat as to not break the butter emulsion. Add some of the starchy pasta water as needed (this will loosen the sauce as well as help bind it to the pasta!). Transfer to a serving bowl and put the clams on top. Sprinkle the whole mixture with the toasted bread crumbs and the fresh parsley. Serve immediately.