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two years of Bitter Honey (and a recipe)

Bitter Honey is 2 today. It has been a very odd two years it's true, but made very happy by seeing this book travel around your kitchens and homes.

Thank you so much for the support, it has meant an incredible amount. And here is a recipe as a thank you, for sweet little pebbly pasta (fregola) with fennel and clams, a dish we will hopefully be making/trying with Stanley Tucci in June, when he comes to film in Sardinia as part of his Tasting Italy series.

Fregola with Clams and Fennel

Apart from its wonderful flavours, there’s something very pleasing about the shapes and textures of this dish, with its pebbles of fregola and sweet, soft, little clam nuggets. The fennel provides an ethereal anise back-note. Here the fregola is cooked like a risotto, the grains added with the base ingredients to saute, then cooked out gently with liquid until they become plump and just al dente. It is a deliciously soupy, salty, sweet combination.

Serves 6 as a starter (or 4 as a main)

For the clams:

1 clove garlic

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1.5kg clams

200ml dry white wine (preferably Vermentino/Vernaccia)

For the Fregola:

50g butter

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove, finely sliced

2 large fennel bulbs, finely diced and green leafy stalks reserved

350g fregola

About 1 litre fish/vegetable stock or water

Salt and pepper

To Serve

Freshly chopped parsley and lemon zest

Check though your clams and throw away any that are cracked or open. Heat the oil in a wide saute pan. Add the garlic and cook for half a minute until it begins to smell good. Throw in the clams and the wine and cover the pan. After a minute or so at high heat open the lid to check if the clams are done – they should be open. If they are still closed put the lid on again and cook for a little longer. Once they are all cooked remove from the heat and strain the juice into a container. Add this juice to your fregola cooking liquid (whether using stock or water). Drizzle the clams with some good oil to keep them juicy and put to one side with the lid on for the moment.

In a deep saucepan saute the garlic and fennel in the butter and oil. Cook until the fennel is translucent and just beginning to take colour.

Add the fregola and stir well. Now add ladle by ladle of your cooking liquid and continue cooking over a medium heat, stirring all the time as though you were making risotto.

When the fregola is just al dente (12-15 minutes or so) and the mixture is nice and saucy/soupy, stir thought your clams and a little chopped parsley and lemon zest. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and taste for seasoning ( I rarely add extra salt as the clams are salty).

Serve in bowls with some of the reserved fennel fronds scattered over the top, and an extra drizzle of good olive oil.

photo from Bitter Honey by Matt Russell

1 Comment

Love the book/recipes/stories..... but the typeface!!!!

I have a library of cookery books - this is the only one I have to wear spectacles so I can read ingredients and instructions!!

Next edition??

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