CLAMMING FOR CHOWDER
Whether it's the dead of winter or the height of summer, no trip to Provincetown is complete without a bowl of creamy Clam Chowder. On a recent morning we rolled out of bed at the crack of dawn and hit the tidal flats near the breakwater in Provincetown Harbor to go clamming (see highlights from our excursion in the video). The clamming season is open from November to March and each year the town designates an area of Provincetown Harbor for harvesting. At the close of the season this year's area is "seeded" with new clams and then left undisturbed for 4+ years to allow the clams to grow before starting the whole cycle again.
NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER
YIELD: 15 10oz. portions
50 Chowder Clams
4 Red Skin Potatoes, diced into 1/2" pieces
1 lbs Smoked Bacon, diced
8 oz Unsalted Butter (2 sticks)
2 Medium Onions, diced
4 Celery Ribs, diced
5 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 cup All Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Fresh Thyme
1 qt Heavy Cream
1 qt Clam Juice (see below)
1 qt Whole Milk
Salt to taste
FRESH CLAMS: rinse clams under cold water and put into a large stock pot with a 1/2 cup of water (you may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your pot) cover and cook over medium high heat until clams have opened up. You may have to stir the clams toward the end of cooking to encourage the lower clams to open. Remove clams to a bowl (discard any clams that have not opened) and pour remaining liquid into a large pitcher and set aside.
Remove clam bellies from shells, discard shells. Pour cooking liquid (clam juice) into a quart container slowly making sure to discard any sediment that settles to the bottom, you can add water to reach the full quarts if it falls short.
CANNED CLAMS: reserve liquid, you may need to purchase additional clam juice to get to the full quart needed for this recipe.
In a small pot start diced potatoes in cold water and boil until tender.
In a large stock pot slowly render diced bacon over medium heat until crispy, then add butter and melt. Next add onions, celery, garlic and thyme to pot and cook until tender. Sprinkle flour over bacon vegetable mix and stir for one minute to create a roux. Slowly stir in clam juice, then heavy cream.
Rough chop clam bellies and add to the pot along with cooked potatoes, add in whole milk until desired consistency is reached and season with pepper and salt if needed and then serve.
This recipe makes a lot of soup so if you want to save some for later stop before adding the milk, cool the soup base and freeze. When you want to reheat, thaw the base, bring a to boil then add milk until desired consistency is reached and season with pepper and salt if needed and serve.
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