1 lb. linguine or spaghetti
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/3 cup olive oil
2 lbs. Littleneck or Venus clams
1 tsp. salt and/or 1 tsp. cornmeal
1 8-oz. bottle of clam juice
3 6.5-oz cans chopped clams
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1. Note on fresh clams: if not using right away, I keep the clams in the frig or place them in a bowl over ice in the frig (don't soak in water). Best not to refrigerate more than 1-2 days before using. About 30 minutes to an hour before cooking, place clams in a large bowl and cover with cool tap water. Stir in about 1 tsp. of salt (and optionally, 1 tsp. of cornmeal) - this will stimulate the clams to expel grit or sand they may have in them.
2. In the meantime bring a large stock pot of water to a boil. Add the dried pasta and cook about 10-12 minutes or until al dente (chewy tender). Drain the pasta in a colander (do not rinse) and toss in 1 tbsp. of olive oil. Set aside.
3. Heat 1/3 cup of olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook 1-2 minutes over medium heat until garlic just starts to brown.
4. Rinse the clams & shake dry, then add to the garlic mixture in the saute pan. Add white wine and clam juice. Cover and simmer the clams over medium heat until all the clams have opened. Discard any unopened clams. Remove all the whole clams from the sauce into a bowl. Remove the clam meat from the shells, leaving 6-8 clams in their shells for garnish. Add the clam meat back to the sauce and 3 cans of chopped clams (including their liquid). Bring sauce back up to a boil and simmer about 5 minutes.
5. Add the pasta to the clam mixture in the saute pan, stir in chopped parsley, toss well, and let cook about 3 minutes until the pasta is well-flavored. Taste the pasta at this point and adjust seasonings as necessary - I've never had to add extra salt to this dish due to the brininess of the clams & clam juice, but to each his own. Turn off heat and let sit about 5 minutes minutes before serving.
6. To serve: Plate the pasta in individual serving plates or pasta bowls and garnish with a few clams in the shell & additional fresh parsley.