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Friday, May 7, 2010

Clam Chowder with White Corn

Clams are delicious and quite easy to prepare, but many people shy away from cooking them because it seems like too much work. However, most grocery stores sell seafood that is already cleaned and ready to cook. Experiment with a few recipes until you find your favorite.  

As with all shellfish, good handling practices are critical to ensure food safety. Just follow a few simple rules:

*When you purchase live clams, their shells should be tightly closed.
*Live clams need to breathe. Do not store them in plastic bags.
*Ideally, you should prepare live clams within 24 hours of purchase.
*Live clams should be refrigerated in an open container covered with a damp cloth or paper towel.

2 TB plus 1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 strips Bacon, finely diced
1 large Onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup Dry White Wine
1 1/2 cups Heavy Cream
3 pounds Littleneck Clams, scrubbed
1 cup Corn Kernels (from 2 ears)
1 medium Leek, white and green parts, coarsely chopped
1 small Celery rib, finely chopped
2 Parsley Sprigs
2 Thyme Sprigs
1 tsp Ground Coriander
1 TB Flour
2 cups Bottled Clam Juice
3/4 pound Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 cup Milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup Yellow Bell Pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup Basil, cut into thin strips

Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add bacon and cook over medium-low heat until tender, about 4 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of wine and boil over medium-high heat until reduced, about 7 minutes. Add 1 cup of heavy cream and bring to a boil. Add the clams, cover and cook until they begin to open, about 2 minutes; as clams open, transfer to a shallow dish. Remove the saucepan from the heat.

Remove the clams from their shells and put them in a small bowl. Strain the cream mixture over the clams.

In a large saucepan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add corn, leek, celery, parsley, thyme and coriander. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of wine and simmer over medium-high heat until reduced, about 4 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Slowly stir in the clam juice and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Carefully transfer the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Return soup to the large saucepan.

In a medium saucepan, cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil; boil until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain potatoes and add them to the soup along with the milk and the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream.

Bring the soup to a simmer over low heat. Stir in the reserved clams in cream until warmed through. Season the soup with salt and pepper and ladle it into bowls. Garnish soup with yellow bell pepper and basil strips and serve immediately.   Serves 8.

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