Spicy Chorizo-Clam Sauce on Pasta


My husband loves clams, so I’m always finding new ways to serve them. When my fishmonger presented me with some beautiful fresh clams, I came home and whipped up this Spicy Chorizo-Clam Sauce.

The sauce is spiced with both fresh chorizo sausage and a chipotle chile, providing a fusion of Spanish and Mexican heat. You can find chipotle chiles packed in adobo (a spicy tomato sauce) at specialty markets or occasionally in your supermarket. The ingredient has become popular across the United States, so it’s becoming more readily available. Freeze the remaining smoked chiles for future use.

While I call for chorizo and chipotles in this recipe, simple substitutions can be made for these often hard-to-find ingredients. Just replace the chorizo with hot Italian sausage and add some dried red pepper flakes to the sauce in place of the chipotle. Serve your spicy sauce over linguine or fettuccine along with a tossed salad and some good bread.

  • 1 pound fresh chorizo or hot Italian sausage, casings removed and rumbled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 large ripe tomato, diced
  • 1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo, chopped
  • 1 29-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 dozen live littleneck clams, washed*
  • 1 pound linguine or fettuccine, cooked according to package directions
Brown sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven and add chopped onion. Sauté until almost caramelized, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add diced tomato, clam juice, wine and saffron threads and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add chipotle, crushed tomatoes and cooked sausage, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Place clams on top of sauce, cover and simmer until clams open. Spoon the sauce over the pasta.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

*Canned baby clams can be substituted for the fresh clams. Drain the clams, adding the juices to the sauce, if desired, and add to the sauce a few minutes before serving