The recipe? Spaghetti and clams. What makes it so special? Fennel, leek, vermouth, and cream, which meld to create a deep, delicate flavor that will impress the hell out of your special someone. Spaghetti and marinara, this is not.
Yes, the recipe takes a little over an hour. Buck up. Pour your date a glass of wine while you work out the first two and a half steps of the recipe. Then, after you’ve poured some wine in the pan, pour yourself a glass, and then turn your attention to your date. Once you have everything going, all you have to do is stir the sauce every 10 minutes or so.
A quick note: If you don’t want to serve a sand-laden, sickness-inducing dish, you should follow a few tips. When the fish guy or gal hands you a bag of clams, know that the mollusks are alive. AND they should stay that way until the clams meet the pan. So, for the love of fish, don’t be the ninny who suffocates his dinner. Plastic bags: bad idea. Throwing the clams on the floor of your car and tossing the other groceries on top: bad idea. Leaving them in the car for a few hours while you try to find the cheapest most beautiful bouquet of flowers: bad idea.
Take the clams home right away, rise them, and use them. If you have some time, let them sit for 20 minutes to an hour in a bowl with cold water and a little cornstarch or salt, so they spit out the sand inside. Fresh clams should stay closed in the bowl, if you see any open or cracked ones, toss them. Same with clams that stay closed after they’ve steamed.
Oh, and this recipe comes from Chef Jesse Schenker, mastermind behind The Gander, a restaurant/bar in Manhattan known for having awesome pasta, and will probably be packed on V-Day.
Spaghetti and Clams
Recipe adapted from Jessie Schenker, executive chef of The Gander in New York City
What You’ll Need:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 leek, rinsed thoroughly
¼ cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
16 whole littleneck clams
¾ cup white wine
1 Tbsp butter
1 fennel bulb, diced, fronds reserved
1 cup dry vermouth
Pinch fennel seed (optional)
1 8-oz. jar clam juice
4 oz. (¼ pint) heavy cream
8 oz. uncooked spaghetti
How to Make It:
1. In a large pan, the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the leek, onion, garlic, clams, and enough white wine to cover the ingredients. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the clams open, about 8 minutes.
2. Using a slotted spoon, remove the leek, onion, garlic, and clams, setting them aside in a bowl. Reserve the liquid in a separate bowl.
3. Add 1 Tbsp butter to the empty pan and add the fennel, vermouth, and fennel seed (if using). Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced and sticky, about 45 minutes, adding reserved liquid as needed.
4. While the fennel sauce is reducing, use another pan to heat the clam juice over high heat. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, making sure it doesn’t burn, until juice is reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Reduce the sauce to a simmer, add the cream, and cook until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Reserve.
5. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Add pasta, clams, and cream sauce to the pan with fennel. Toss and serve. Top with reserves fennel fronds or parsley, if desired. Makes 2 servings.
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Source : Men’s Health
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