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Stephanie Izard's Manila Clam and Sausage Linguine
Why I Picked This Recipe: Stephanie Izard is a Top Chef winner, and her restaurant Girl & the Goat in Chicago is regularly booked for months out. She is known for her affinity with unusual flavor combinations that you'd never think would work—which is exactly what drew me to this dish. Sure, shellfish and cured pork almost always go well together—something I learned from Bill Buford's book Heat, a point he drives home over and over again. But then you take crème fraîche and mix in horseradish, then amp up the whole thing with spicy sambal paste? Too intriguing to pass up.
What Worked:As I'd hoped, the flavors in this dish were fascinating. You couldn't necessarily taste every aspect, but it all came together in a surprising way, just the way you might hope they would eating the food of an inventive chef.
The technique I'll definitely take away from this dish is Izard's way of finishing the pasta: with a big dollop of crème fraîche. While I've always been a fan of finishing pastas in the skillet with some of the pasta cooking water—a guaranteed way to make the result pretty creamy—this method is even more luxurious, without being overly rich like heavy cream would have been.
What Didn't Work: While I loved the flavors of this dish, I didn't find it necessary to cook the clams separately with their own aromatics as the recipe suggested. It seemed like a translation from a restaurant's methods rather than something ideal for home. So I've streamlined the recipe to make it easier—and faster—for a weeknight.
Suggested Tweaks: Besides simplifying the steps, which I've already done, I might suggest a few less clams and more sambal paste; I thought overal the dish could be spicier.