THE ULTIMATE CLAM CHOWDER
Hands-on time: 45 minutes Total time: 1¼ hours Makes: 8 servings
The secret to making this dish ultimately delicious is simple: Leave the cans on the shelf and use only fresh East Coast clams. For an even more spectacular chowder, serve it in bread bowls you make by hollowing out small round loaves or extra-large crusty hamburger buns.
2.25 kg fresh littleneck clams
6 strips bacon, diced
1 tbsp butter
2 shallots, diced
1 rib celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
550 g yellow-fleshed potatoes
(about 2), peeled and diced
½ tsp pepper
½ cup dry sherry
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1½ cups 18% cream
2 tbsp each chopped fresh chives and fresh parsley
Scrub clams; discard any that do not close when tapped. In Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring clams and 1 cup water to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until clams have opened, about 10 minutes.
Discard any clams that do not open. Using slotted spoon, transfer remaining clams to bowl. Set aside.
Strain cooking liquid through cheeseclothlined fine-mesh sieve into bowl; pour into liquid measure. Add enough water to yield 3½ cups. Set aside.
Remove meat from all but 8 of the clams; coarsely chop meat. Refrigerate chopped clam meat and remaining clams until ready to use.
In Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed saucepan, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring often, until crisp, about 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to bowl. Set aside.
Drain all but 2 tbsp fat from pan. Add butter; melt over medium heat. Cook shallots and celery, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, thyme and bay leaf; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Sprinkle in flour; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
Gradually whisk in reserved cooking liquid. Stir in potatoes and pepper; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes.
Discard thyme and bay leaf. Stir in sherry, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce; bring to simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in cream, chopped clam meat and bacon; cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Stir in chives and parsley.
Ladle chowder into serving bowls; top with reserved clams.
PER SERVING: about 292 cal, 12 g pro, 16 g total fat (8 g sat. fat), 23 g carb (1 g dietary fibre, 3 g sugar), 60 mg chol, 437 mg sodium, 653 mg potassium. % RD I: 9% calcium, 56% iron, 15% vit A, 22% vit C, 13% folate.