You have to make this pasta, it was absolutely delicious! So tasty it deserves two pictures, just to make sure you are convinced.
I made a handful of adjustments to the recipe, the key one was scaling it down a bit since I was only serving two, and cutting back on the fennel. I'm not a huge fan of fennel, but it was pretty subtle and really mixed well with the other flavors of this dish.
If you haven't used fennel much, you should find this video on how to chop fennel helpful.
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (I just threw a couple pieces of baguette into my food processer)
1/2 cup plus two tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons dried thyme leaves
1/2 sprig of rosemary
3 chiles de arbol, stems removed and chopped
1-1/2 cups red onion, chopped
1 cup fennel, chopped
2 bay leaves
5-6 garlic cloves, sliced
3/4 pound linguine (you can use bucatini or spaghetti)
3 pounds Manila Clams, cleaned
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Heat a small to medium stove top pan to medium heat. Add two tablespoons of olive oil, breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon of thyme. Toss it all together and toast breadcrumbs in the pan for about 6 to 8 minutes, stirring around a few times. Once toasted remove breadcrumbs from heat and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.
Meanwhile, heat a large Dutch oven (make sure it's big, all of the pasta, clams and sauce will be going into this) over high heat for two minutes. Add 1/2 cup olive oil to pan. Then add rosemary sprig and chiles de arbol. Cook in the oil for about 1 to 2 minutes and reduce heat to medium. Add onion, fennel, bay leaves, 1 tablespoon thyme, salt and pepper.
Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring regularly. Add garlic and cook for about 3 more minutes.
Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before you drain it.
Add clams to the Dutch oven with the vegetables and toss together. Add the wine (pour a glass for yourself if you don't already have one), cover and let simmer for about 6 minutes until the clams are all open, gently stirring around half way through. Once clams are cooked, turn the burner off and use a slotted spoon to remove clams and put them into a separate bowl.
When pasta is done cooking and the clams are removed return the dutch oven to medium high heat. Add the cooked pasta to the vegetables and sauce, coating them well. Cook for about 4 minutes to reduce the juices and let the pasta soak some of it up. If the pasta seems dry add some of the reserved pasta water (I ended up adding about 1/4 cup).
Add the butter, squeeze in juice from the lemon and parsley to pasta. Stirring around until butter melts.
You can either add the clams back in to the Dutch oven and sprinkle your breadcrumbs on top. Or for presentation, you can add the pasta to a platter, spoon the clams over the noodels and sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top (I saved some so we could sprinkle some on top of our own servings).