The heart of New England is in this dish — clam chowder is what we are known for and as a New England chef, it is my duty to make it the best clam chowder I can. Chowder is the perfect hearty comfort food during the winter months in New England, but it also works just as well in the summertime on Cape Cod, where you can enjoy a cup of chowder with a lobster roll and a cold beer.
Technique tip: This recipe calls for both mussels and clams, which gives the chowder more depth of flavor than clams alone.
- 1 cup clam juice or fish stock or broth
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 bag mussels (about 4 pounds), cleaned of beards
- 32 small clams, such as manila or countneck
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small bunch thyme
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 red onion, diced small
- 3 stalks celery, diced small
- 1 large carrot, diced small
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 pound chopped clams, drained of juice
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 pound potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Chopped chives and chili flakes for garnish (optional)
- Oyster crackers or grilled bread for serving
1. Place the mussels in a large pot with the clam juice or fish stock, wine, bay leaf and thyme. Cover and bring to a simmer until all of the mussel shells open, about 5 minutes (discard any mussels that do not open). Carefully remove the mussels and set aside to cool. Repeat with the clams until they open, about 5-7 minutes (discarding any that don't open). Remove the clams, allow to cool, strain liquid and reserve. Once cool, remove the mussels from their shells and set aside. Leave the clams in their shells. (Note: The reserved liquid may have some shell pieces or sand in it. Allow it to settle and ladle the liquid off the top, leaving the silt and shells at the bottom to discard.)
2. Heat the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots and garlic and saute until soft, stirring often. Stir in the flour to distribute evenly. Add the reserved stock, cream, and potatoes and stir to combine.
3. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly (the base will thicken), then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook 20 minutes, stirring often, until the potatoes are nice and tender.
4. Add the chopped clams, shucked mussels, and the in-shell clams. Season to taste with salt and pepper, cook until chopped clams are just firm, another 2 minutes.
5. Serve with chopped chives, chili flake and choice of oyster crackers or grilled bread.