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Quahog chowder

September 23, 2009

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Serves 6

This chowder contains both quahogs and other chopped clams. Fish markets often sell fresh or frozen chopped shucked clams by the pound.

6-8 fresh quahogs in their shells
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cloves garlic, 3 whole and 3 chopped
6 bay leaves
6 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped garlic scapes (optional)
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon anchovy paste, or to taste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and black pepper, to taste
2 large potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 pound chopped fresh clams, with juice
1/2 teaspoon natural hickory flavoring
2 tablespoons butter, cut up
1 quart half-and-half or heavy cream
Paprika (for sprinkling)
1. Wash and scrub quahog shells. Set the quahogs in a soup pot with the water, olive oil, 3 whole cloves garlic, and 3 bay leaves. Cover the pot and cook the clams over high heat for 5 minutes or until the shells open. With tongs, lift the clams from the pot and transfer to a plate to cool. Remove the clams from the shells. Chop them coarsely. Strain the broth; you’ll have about 1 cup.

2. In the same pot over medium heat, render the bacon until it is golden brown. Remove it from the pan.

3. Add the garlic scapes, if using, onion, celery, anchovy paste, Worcestershire, crushed red pepper, salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until the onions start to caramelize.

4. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan combine the potatoes with enough water to cover them by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer the potatoes for 10 minutes or until cooked through. Drain into a colander.

5. To the soup pot, add the potatoes, 3 chopped garlic cloves, 3 remaining bay leaves, chopped fresh clams and their juice, and reserved quahog broth. Bring to a boil (it should barely bubble) and simmer for 15 minutes.

6. Add the bacon, chopped quahogs, hickory flavoring, butter, and half-and-half or cream. Heat just until the liquid starts to simmer again. Remove from the heat. Let the chowder steep for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves.

7. Return the chowder just to a simmer. Remove from the heat. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if you like. Sprinkle with paprika. Adapted from Joe Montisano

Another creamy chowder is on Page 23.