Food & dining

Recipe for Matt Jennings’s carbonara with clams

Carbonara with clams, from Matt Jennings’s “Homegrown.”
© 2016 Galdones Photography
Carbonara with clams, from Matt Jennings’s “Homegrown.”

Serves 6

This recipe draws inspiration from traditional carbonara, then takes some Yankee deviations. Clams with pork is a stalwart New England pairing, complemented by the eggs and Parmigiano-Reggiano that make this pasta especially creamy and satisfying. The recipe calls for dry spaghetti for the sake of convenience, but Jennings notes that it’s even better with fresh.

2 pounds razor clams, scrubbed (or substitute littleneck or manila clams)

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 pound spaghetti

8 ounces salt pork or pancetta, cut into ¼-inch cubes

1 onion, halved and thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 egg

4 egg yolks

¾ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

½ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Fill a medium saucepan with ½ inch of water and bring to a boil. Add the clams, cover, and steam for about 8 minutes or until the shells open.

2. Remove from the heat and use a slotted spoon to remove the clams, reserving the liquid in the pot. Discard any clams that do not open. Remove the clams from their shells and coarsely chop the meat (pieces should be about the size of a nickel). Set aside. Strain the clam liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl.


3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the strained clam liquid. Add the spaghetti and cook about 9 minutes or until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.

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4. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the salt pork and saute for about 10 minutes or until the fat has rendered and the pieces of salt pork are browned and crisp. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and let drain on a plate lined with paper towels; leave the fat in the pan.

5. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and saute for 5 minutes or until the onion is soft. Add the chopped clams and saute for 2 minutes more, then add the spaghetti and toss until the spaghetti is warmed through and the mixture is well combined.

6. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks, cheese, and nutmeg. Remove the spaghetti from the heat and carefully drizzle in the egg mixture, tossing the noodles as you go to prevent the egg from scrambling, until fully incorporated. Add a splash of the reserved pasta cooking water and toss until the pasta looks silky. Season with salt and a generous amount of pepper, then stir in the butter and parsley. Transfer to a platter or individual bowls and serve warm.

Adapted from “Homegrown,” by Matt Jennings (Artisan Books)

Devra First can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @devrafirst.