CAPE ANN CLAM CHOWDER
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Total Cooking Time: 50 minutes to 1 hour
Active Cooking Time: 35 minutes
Clam Shucking Knife
Cook’s Note: If you don’t have a clam shucking knife available, or if you don’t feel comfortable shucking clams, don’t worry — you can steam the clams until the shells pop open and then pull the meat out. However, by shucking them raw you keep all the delicious clam juice, which makes this chowder so fantastic.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces smoked bacon, cut crosswise into ¼-inch pieces
½ cup chopped leeks
2 celery stalks, minced
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1½ pounds red bliss potatoes, scrubbed and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
⅓ cup dry white wine
2 cups clam juice, either bottled, reserved from shucking fresh clams, or a combination
25 cherrystone clams (about 5 lbs), scrubbed and shucked, reserving juices
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a heavy bottomed stock pot, melt butter over medium low heat and add bacon. Cook bacon 7 to 10 minutes, until fat has rendered and bacon is crispy. With a slotted spoon, remove bacon from pot and set aside. Add leeks, celery, and yellow onion. Continue to sauté over medium low heat until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, potatoes, thyme, and sauté for 2 minutes more. Add white wine. Allow the wine to cook off, about 2 minutes, and then add the clam juice. Simmer for 15 minutes and allow the potatoes to soften. Finally, add the clam meat. Reduce the heat to low and add the heavy cream, being careful not to boil. Return the bacon to the pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.