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Cravings shift with the seasons, but comfort food always finds a home on the table. Pasta is a consistent crowd-pleaser—especially in the form of a revamped classic.
At The Gander (15 W. 18th St.; 212-229-9500; thegandernyc.com)—a new restaurant, located in New York’s Flatiron District, from chef Jesse Schenker of Recette—the ethos focuses on elevating familiar dishes. Schenker’s take on spaghetti with clams at the restaurant tosses housemade spaghetti with a lobster-clam sauce, three types of clams (razor, geoduck, littleneck), guanciale and braised fennel.
“This dish is one of my favorites on the menu,” says Schenker. “The adapted version here [easy for home cooks] works well using readily available items. It’s a great recipe for summer entertaining—it’s light and briny, and summer is prime season for fresh, succulent clams.”
Spaghetti with Clams
1 lb spaghetti
16 oz clam juice
8 oz heavy cream
½ leek, chopped
½ Spanish onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed whole
20 littleneck clams, in shells
1 ½ cups dry white wine, such as a neutral Pinot Grigio
2 fennel bulbs, diced
2 cups dry vermouth
Pinch of fennel seeds
Cook pasta according to directions on box. Meanwhile, heat clam juice in a pan over high heat and cook for about 20 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally—making sure it doesn’t burn—until juice is reduced by half. Add the cream and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until viscous. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in another pan over high heat and add the leek, onion, garlic and clams. Add white wine and cover. Cook for about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the leek, onion, garlic and clams, set aside in a bowl and reserve liquid in a separate bowl. Add 2 tbsps butter to the pan and add fennel, vermouth and fennel seeds. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, and reduce until sticky, about 40 minutes. Add pasta, clams and sauce to the pan with fennel, toss and serve.