Brian Malarkey's built an empire of restaurants based on creative comfort foods. Here's a healthier (but equally comforting) recipe for his family's clam pasta, a dish that both goes down and cleans up easy.
Brian Malarkey, Searsucker (San Diego)
"I grew up in Oregon on a ranch, but would often visit my grandmother who lived on the coast. That’s where my earliest memories and love of seafood come from. Living in San Diego, I’ve been able to pass that on to my three kids. Our favorite day of the week is Sunday -- we call them Seafood Sundays. I get up early, grab the kiddos, and we take our family golf cart (I mean, why wouldn’t we own a golf cart for getting around our neighborhood?) to the local seafood market to pick out whatever looks good. Then we head over to the farmer’s market for produce and set off for home, where we cook together. My little botanist Hunter grabs the fresh herbs from our backyard garden. The trick is to keep Sundays simple, cooking as much as we can in one pan. It’s usually butter, garlic, and whatever shellfish we’ve picked out. On days when we want a little more, we add in pasta which is always comforting. Nothing more comforting than freshly-made, Seafood Sunday clam pasta."
1 big handful (about 1lb) dried fettuccine
1/2 stick (2oz) butter
2tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 strips bacon or pancetta, diced
4 cloves fresh garlic, sliced
2 handfuls fresh mushrooms, quartered or diced
24 clams, rinsed well (Manila or similar)
1 cup white wine
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/4 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1 pinch red chili flakes
Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
Crusty bread to soak up that winey garlic-lemon love!
1. Bring a medium sauce pot filled with water and a couple drops of olive oil to a boil. Drop the pasta in as the butter hits the sauté pan.
2. In a large sauté pan on high heat, melt the butter and extra-virgin olive oil, and add the diced bacon. When the bacon starts to crisp, add the garlic and mushrooms. Sauté until the mushrooms have given up their liquid and start to brown.
3. Now add the clams. (It’s time to roll that wrist!) Coat the clams in the bacon-garlic-mushroom love! After a minute or so, hit the pan with the white wine and cover with a lid, another sauté pan, or some foil.
4. Cook, covered, for about 8 to 10mins, or until the clams pop open (discard any unopened ones).
5. Add the cooked pasta to the pan, along with the lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, chili flakes, salt, and pepper.
6. To serve: stir, taste, and garnish with the Parmesan so your friends can get their cheese on! Pair with that nice Chardonnay or that lovely Sancerre you sacrificed to the “gods” of the sauté pan.