Wow, that old saying of “You learn something new every day,” really is true, isn’t it? I was thinking of writing a cute little title for this dish, playing on an old Mother Goose rhyme; Mary, Mary, quite contrary…etc, until I read the history and significance of the rhyme. Um, let’s not use that particular imagery on the cooking blog. Yikes! So, a simple title will have to suffice, because the only other clever thing I can think up using the word, “cockle,” is probably also inappropriate for a cooking blog. lol
It’s Cockle season! Yes! Cockles are (in my opinion) better than clams….they are a type of mollusk, small and heart shaped, and if you really would like to know all about them, here is a link to Wikipedia detailing the exact nature of the creature. What Wikipedia doesn’t tell you, though, is that the cockle is delicious! It’s sweeter than a clam, and quite tender and succulent.
ZenChef over at Chefs Gone Wild made a delectable looking clam risotto the other day, which I had planned on trying this week. Unfortunately, my market’s clams left much to be desired. Which is strange, considering that they are almost always available and fresh and begging to be purchased and made into something wonderful. They did, however, have cockles, and I think that I’m almost happy that the cockles were screaming at me instead. The delicately sweet flavor lends itself really, really well to this garlicky white sauce, And over pasta? Yum. I will definitely try Zen’s delicious risotto soon, though.
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1 medium onion, minced
3-4 small dried cayenne peppers
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup water
1 1/2 pounds (750 grams) linguine
2 pounds (1 kilo) cockles (soaked in salted ice cold water for a minimum of 1 hour)
1/4 cup butter, in pieces
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
*optional, but recommended* 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1/3 cup water
freshly grated parmesan cheese to taste
Get your water going for the pasta…you’ll want to salt it fairly heavily and bring to a rolling boil.
Meanwhile, begin your sauce.
Heat olive oil in a wide, medium depth soup pot.
Saute garlic first, just until beginning to turn golden, then add onions and saute until translucent and tender.
Add cayennes, wine and water and cook about 3-5 minutes over moderate heat.
By now, your pasta water might be ready, so pop the noodles in there and prepare according to package directions.
When the pasta is done, drain well and return to the pot.
Ok, back to the sauce.
Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, then add the cockles and cover.
Cook over moderate heat for about 5 minutes or so, until cockles have opened (discard any that haven’t opened, they’re not fit to eat).
Remove from heat, add butter and parsley and stir.
Add cornstarch slurry if using and stir some more, then reserve.
Is your pasta back in the pot? Ok, then it’s time to pour the cockles and sauce over your pasta and stir well to combine.
Discard any empty shells you find.
Sprinkle with parm to taste and enjoy!
Oh! Be sure to have more of that dry white on hand to drink with this dish.