coast to coast clam chowder
Superbowl XLIX was a showdown between the New England Patriot's and the Seattle Seahawks. Quarterbacks Tom Brady and Russell Wilson were throwing for east to west bragging rights. National Public Radio announced a bit of hometown betting between Boston's king of clam chowder, Legal Seafood and Seattle's Ivar's Salmon House. The loser would serve the winner's chowder in their restaurant. A come-from-behind 28-24 Patriot win sealed the deal and Seattleites tasted the chowder served at every presidential inauguration. Seattle's STEELHEAD DINER, however, serves up some serious competition. Trading in quahogs for razor clams is the main difference. The Pacific razor clam (not to be confused with the Atlantic Jackknife clam) sports an elongated oblong narrow 3 to 6 inch long shell and a super sweet and succulent meat. This recipe is an east meets west winner. The addition of sweet, tender clams from Little Neck Bay Long Island and a drizzle of truffle oil on top, and a poor man's stew transforms into a dish suitable for serving to ball gown and tuxedo clad politicians.
For the record, this clam chowder is delicious regardless of the type of clam used. Razor clams are becoming more popular outside the Pacific Northwest so do request from a local fishmonger. Discard any unopened clams. Organic celery bunches are smallerand sweeter, and the stalks less fibrous--over all better than the conventional in texture and taste. If using conventional use 1/2 celery bunch.
1 quart whole milk
1 pint half & half
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, medium diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 tbsp butter
½ pound thick-sliced apple-smoked bacon, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 medium onions, diced
1 medium leek, diced
1 bunch organic celery, medium diced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
24 ounces clam juice
3 pounds razor clams, scrubbed and rinsed to remove debris and sand
24 little neck clams, scrubbed and rinsed to remove debris and sand
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
1. Place milk, heavy cream, potatoes, and one teaspoon of salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are cooked through, about 20 minutes..
2. In a large heavy-gauge soup pot, melt butter over medium heat, then add bacon and cook until crispy. Add garlic and cook until blonde. Toss in thyme and bay leaves and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add onions, leeks, and celery, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Sprinkle the flour and 2 teaspoons salt over the vegetable and stir to incorporate. Add clam juice and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat to low and add the cream-milk mixture.
4. Place the razor clams in a wide bottomed pot, cover with 1" cold water and bring to a boil. Cover, turn off the heat, and steam the clams for 3 minutes. Discard any unopened clams. Remove the meat from the shells, cut off the visceral sac (all the dark muddy bits) and squeeze the digger foot--if a long clear crystalline rod is present, remove it. Chop the meat into 1/2" pieces.
5. Place the littleneck clams in a WIDE BOTTOMED POT, cover with 1" cold water and bring to a boil. Cover, turn off the heat, and steam the clams for 3 minutes. Discard any unopened clams. Remove the meat from the shells.
6. Stir the razor and littleneck clams into the chowder.
7. Add the Worcestershire and tabasco sauce and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Divide among bowls, drizzle with truffle oil, and serve immediately.