Living on this joyous little island on the wonderful Eastern Shore you’re sure to eat your fair share of clam chowder. For me, there’s nothing more fun than strapping on a pair of old canvas sneakers, finding a muddy sandbar at low tide, and digging your toes around in the mud until you run into you fill up your bucket with fresh quahogs. Or as well call them, “chowders”.
The big guys aren’t good for much besides soups and clam strips. So, I’ll usually make a batch of chowder when we come across some. About 2 dozen will be more than enough to make a large pot of chowder.
There are a couple ways you can go when it comes to clam chowder. The most well-known is your New England variety, which is cream based. That’s the husband’s favorite, and I plan on sharing that recipe with you soon. But today I’m sharing my recipe for Manhattan, which is tomato based, and my personal favorite…
Bacon, potatoes, celery, onions, tomatoes, and clams. Basic, but oh so delicious. Now, I realize some of you may not be able to come across fresh clams as easily as I am. In that case, a couple cans of clams and a some bottled clam juice works just fine.
But, if you have a great seafood counter or shop in your neighborhood I’d highly encourage you to try to find some fresh. They’re cheap as far as it goes on the seafood spectrum, and the flavor is unparalleled.
A perfect dinner for these chilly fall evenings, that holds onto one last taste of summer. Make sure to make some homemade oyster crackers to go along with it, they’re the perfect topping and only take a few minutes to throw together. Have a great weekend, everyone!
Manhattan Clam Chowder
24 large chowder clams*
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 small onions, chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 lbs red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Scrub the clams clean using a clean scrub brush. Place clams into a large pot and add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cover. Steam the clams until they have all popped open, about 15 minutes. Remove the clams from the pot and set aside to cool.
Strain the clam steaming liquid through cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer to remove any grit and reserve the liquid. Remove the clams from the shells and chop well. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven or stockpot (I use the same one that I use to steam the clams), add the bacon and cook over medium-high until the bacon is crispy – about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pot to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside to drain. Add the carrots, celery, and onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add in the tomato paste and cook until starting to brown, about 3 minutes longer.
Add the broth, diced tomatoes, potatoes, thyme, bay leaves, bacon, chopped clams, and reserved clam juice. Stir to combine, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 45 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Remove bay leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.
*If fresh clams are not available, substitute 2 (10 oz) cans of chopped clams and 2 (14 oz) bottles of clam juice or broth.
Source: adapted from Simply Recipes