Clams and garlic in Kevin’s white clam sauce*

I drove back from New York, and Kevin had white clam sauce waiting for me for dinner.  Nice, huh?

Kevin’s White Clam Sauce

2 t. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 bulb garlic, each clove peeled and crushed with the flat side of a knife
2 t. crushed red pepper
1 ¼ cups extra dry white vermouth
4 dozen raw littleneck clams, in the shell
sugar to taste (optional)
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup chopped parsley

1. In a pot big enough to hold all the clams, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s completely wilted. Add the red pepper and the garlic, and cook 3-5 minutes longer.

2. Turn the heat all the way up and add the vermouth. As soon as it boils, add the clams and cover the pot. Cook until all the clams open, 8-12 minutes (this varies tremendously – keep checking).

3. Using tongs, remove the clams from the pot and take the meat out of the shell. Set the clams aside (discard the shells).

4. Puree what remains in the pot. An immersion blender works best for this, but you can also transfer the mixture to a regular blender, puree it, and return it to the pot.

5. Simmer the pureed mixture, stirring occasionally, until it has reduced to a syrupy consistency. (The time depends on how much liquid came out of the clams – it could take as long as half an hour.)

6. Taste the mixture. Depending on the flavor of your clams, it may benefit from a small amount of sugar, probably only a teaspoon or two. (This can all be done in advance, and can be reheated when you’re ready to serve.)

7. Add the cream and clams, and cook just until everything heats through. Serve over pasta (this makes enough for a pound), garnished with parsley.