Channeling Frank Sinatra

Saturday night we had a pre father’s day dinner with great friends.  There was a very special item on the menu that we could not pass up, Frank Sinatra’s Mussels “Posillipo”. The story goes that every time ol’ Blue Eyes was in New York he visited Patsy’s restaurant and always had a few orders of these.  We loved the recipe and really want to try it at home!!  Enjoy!!

  • 32 littleneck clams or Mussels
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, halved**
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped
  • 28 oz can whole plum tomatoes with juice
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste***
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste****
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley, plus more for garnish

  1. Scrub the clams/.mussels with a stiff brush, rinse throughly in cold water and place in a large pot. Add cold water to just cover (or slightly less) and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the clams/mussels open, about 5 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon remove the clams/mussels to a large bowl as they open and discard any that do not open.
  2. Strain the cooking liquid though a chinois/strainer lined with a coffee filter. Reserve ¾ cup of the strained cooking liquid (now wonderful clam broth).
  3. [I purge my clams to remove sand/grit and consequently did not perform the upcoming rinsing maneuver. If you do not purge then definitely do the following step.] Return the clams/mussels to the pot, add cold water and stir to remove any remaining sand. Drain and reserve clams.
  4. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium flame and sauté the garlic halves until golden, about 2 minutes. Remove garlic with tongs and discard. Add the onions to the garlic oil and sauté 3 to 4 minutes, until soft but do not brown. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and add them and their juice to the saucepan. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the tomato paste if using (not optional in my opinion) and add the basil and 1 tablespoon of parsley. Simmer UNCOVERED 5 minutes.
  6. Add the reserved clam broth and clams to the sauce and bring to boil. Cover the saucepan, reduce heat and simmer 8 to 10 minutes or until the clams are heated through. Spoon the clams and sauce into serving bowls, garnish with remaining parsley and serve immediately with hot crusty bread.
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