Spaghetti alle Vongole
Spaghetti alle Vongole. Spaghetti with clams. Although widespread and appreciated throughout Italy, it is the province of Naples that boasts the first written record and official birthplace of this dish which, on the evening of Christmas Eve, becomes a real must of the festive menu. Around 1830 when the first edition of the cookbook Theoretical & Practical Kitchen by the Duke of Buonvicino Ippolito Cavalcanti appears, Gongole (clams) are divided in two species widely known in Naples: Common Gongole and Veraci Gongole.
The meat of these shells is of excellent sauce which according to the tradition is white, without tomato while the spaghetti should be sautéed in a pan. Although it may seem an easy dish, it hides the pitfalls of all those dishes that include few ingredients: all must be of excellent quality and cooked in a way that leaves no room for error. In this case, the ingredients are just five: pasta, clams, oil, garlic, chilli and parsley.
The trick for the success of this dish is to turn off the heat and cover the pot with a lid as soon as the first clams begin to hatch.. Also forbidden by purists to swamp clams with white wine, which would require a rather dangerous lengthening of cooking times. Sometimes clams find the company of mussels, but the advice on timing and cooking also applies to this type of shellfish.