Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Spaghetti alla Vongole/Stewkey Blues

I love this picture, which captures the somewhat chaotic cockle lunch we had on Sunday.  Spaghetti alla Vongole is all about timing - timing is not my forte.  But we managed it - Cockles open, hot, Spaghetti still al dente, Samphire perhaps a touch undercooked.

Picnicking at Stiffkey (or Stewkey) on Saturday, a friend came upon a crock of the famed blue cockles, blue because of the mud they live in, and sent me home with a sackful and a recipe.  I have to admit, despite being local to Stiffkey - I have never cockled, and never eaten a cockle.

Much impressed, I set to purging them overnight in sea water with a handful of oats, that they spit the sand out.  Next day I rinsed them.  Then followed (more or less) his recipe:

Soften Shallots and Garlic in a mixture of Butter and Olive Oil.  Add about 300ml of White Wine, tiny touch of Salt and loads of Pepper and heat.  Meanwhile, get the salted water boiling for the Spaghetti.   Once the Spaghetti is in the water and boiling away, toss the Cockles into the wine, put the lid on.  Drain the Spaghetti when not quite cooked.  Shake the Cockle pan, after about 3 or 4 minutes all should be open, remove any that are still closed.  Add the Spaghetti to let it finish cooking in the winey cockley juices.  Meanwhile chop loads of Parsley, or in my case, for lack of Parsley: Spring Onions, Oregano, Rocket, Celery tops, Thyme...

Serve still hot, having removed most of the shells, with blanched Samphire on the side and doused in herbage.

This was so utterly delicious, and to my mind is even better than local Mussels.


N.B. On the purging front it seems a few hours will suffice.

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