04.20.11: dinner (ferran adrià, clams, spaghetti and the Copa del Rey)

Toasted Spaghetti with Clams a la Ferran Adrià

So, the Copa happened and it was tense and frustrating and ultimately disappointing thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo header in extra time that put Real Madrid up 1-0. But it would be completely naive to think that Barcelona would emerge victorious in every scuffle these two teams would engage in over two weeks, and in the grand scheme of things this was probably the best game they could lose. And Sergio Ramos dropping the trophy in the post-game parade (which then got ran over by the bus carrying the team–) did make up for the loss a little with some much-needed comic relief. Especially given what was to come with the first leg of the Champion’s League with the brutality and the playacting and the general piss-poor sportsmanship on both sides–today’s rematch will make for an interesting two hours, that’s for sure. I just hope both sides get their heads out of their collective asses and remember that many of them also play for the Spanish NT and they are going to have to get along sooner rather than later.

But enough about soccer and more about this incredible, miles-ahead better version of spaghetti with clams, because nothing helps me bury my sorrows, whatever they may be, like a big bowl of pasta.

Sweet nothings in Spanish from Cocinar en Casa

One of the first meals I made for Michael and I in this apartment was actually a riff on this recipe that I had seen on Food & Wine’s website, and then wanted to revisit when Michael got me a copy of Cocinar en Casa arrived at our apartment last year for my birthday. The initial iteration I tried found me using mussels and seafood stock instead of clams and clam juice, and while it was good…it was missing something. The stock was too bland, the mussels not…flavorful enough. So a few months later I made this and never blogged about it even though reverting back to the clams and clam juice made all of the difference.

It’s my own fault for doubting a Ferran Adrià recipe, I suppose. Cocinar en Casa was, after all, dedicated to getting Spaniards into the kitchen and experimenting with classic flavors and trying out some new techniques or new ingredients or both, while still keeping time efficiency in mind, so many of the recipes rely on some shortcuts like rotisserie chicken or the notoriously amazing canned seafood and vegetables Spain is so well-known for. Flipping through the book one might be inclined to liken some of the recipes to Sandra-Lee territory (like a “superpizza” that tells you to take a regular margherita and then add on more mozzarella, tomatoes and basil and melt in the oven), but what makes this better is that it’s not lazy–you’re still using whole ingredients here for the most part and not using seasoning packets, and you have to actually prep the ingredients and things aren’t “pre-chopped” by an army of interns and production assistants.

On the flip side, Adrià does not require you to grow your ingredients from scratch, either. Because jarred crap and growing vegetables are the only two camps one could be in, according to a particular Food Network host.

But I digress. The briny flavor of the clams and the clam juice are essential in making the dish work here, as is using good spaghetti that is well-toasted, because that’s how all of those great briny flavors get absorbed. It’s miles ahead of spaghetti con vognole, and vastly simpler than the more traditional fideuà that usually calls for several types of fish and a much longer cooking time, making it ideal for a weekday dish. Which, considering that easy weekday cooking is what Cocinar en Casa is all about, makes sense. I had purchased ramps at the greenmarket that morning so I threw some in because why not, and Michael declared that if I made pasta like this all of the time, he’d eat it every day.

I think it’s time to start looking for bulk clam juice sources. In the meantime, try out the recipe in its original glory at the Food & Wine website.

  1. I would like to be invited for dinner. Also, I cant get the “well-appointed Belgian gentleman” out of my mind.

  2. Kim said:


    My blog motto is “real food by real people,” and I proudly use jarred clam juice. 🙂 It’s actually a staple in this house. Perfect for soooo many applications!

    We love a good pasta… with jarred clam juice. Good is good, right?


    • Oh, totally. There are some convenience products that aren’t worth trying to make from scratch, and clam juice ranks among them. I just really took issue with a certain TV “cooking” host who said in a recent episode that if you’re buying food from the grocery store at all (even along the perimeter) you’re cooking “her” way which is complete and utter crap on a spatula.

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