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smart cooks

Recipe for New England clam and corn chowder

Serves 6

To a basic recipe for New England clam chowder, add bacon for smokiness, leeks and corn for sweetness, and of course, plenty of briny fresh clams. Steam the clams first to make a delicious clam broth that will serve as the base, then cook potatoes and corn in the clammy broth, and add chopped clams, cream, and parsley. This is supper at the beach, and offers everything you could possibly want in one bowl.

7pounds hard-shell clams (littlenecks or quahogs), scrubbed
2cups water
4slices bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
2large leeks (white and light parts only), sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
2cloves garlic, chopped
1bay leaf
4sprigs fresh thyme
2pounds (about 6) red potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
3ears fresh corn, kernels removed from cob
2cups heavy cream
¼cup chopped fresh parsley

1. In a soup pot over medium-high heat, combine the clams and water. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, shaking the pot every few minutes to redistribute clams, or until the clams open.

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2. Transfer clams to a large bowl, discarding any that do not open; cool. Carefully pour the clam broth into a 1-quart liquid measure (it should fill the measure), leaving about 1 inch of liquid in the pot. Discard the remaining broth at the bottom of the pot.

3. Remove the clams from their shells and chop coarsely. Transfer to a bowl; refrigerate.

4. Rinse and wipe out the pot to remove any sand. Add the bacon to the pot and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes until it renders its fat and begins to crisp.

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5. Add the leeks, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 4 minutes more. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the 1 quart clam broth, bay leaf, thyme sprigs, and potatoes. If the clam broth does not cover the potatoes, add water to just cover them. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cover the pot. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

6. Add the corn, and cook 5 minutes more or until the potatoes are tender. With a large metal spoon, crush some of the potatoes against the side of the pot to thicken the chowder. Stir in cream, return the clams to the pot, and cook for 3 minutes or until the cream starts to bubble at the edges of the pot.

7. Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Stir in parsley and taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper, if you like.
Catherine Smart

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