Jameson Ellis’s Birthday Chowder
“I whipped this up based on a traditional recipe for my friend Jameson Ellis’s birthday,” David Rattray wrote. He served it in coffee mugs to about 20 guests as an appetizer.
Serves eight as a meal.
24 medium or 12 large chowder clams
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 pound smoked bluefish
1 cup Spanish onion, diced
1 cup leeks, white parts, mostly, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 cups Yukon Gold, red, or white potatoes, cubed
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 cup dry rosé
2 sprigs thyme
1 large bay leaf
Fresh black pepper, ground, to taste
Open clams with a sharp clam knife (Persan’s Hardware in Sag Harbor has a terrific French version). Be sure to save all the clam juice, strain it, and measure it. Add water to make three cups of liquid, if necessary, and set aside. Remove clams from shells and chop roughly.
(Alternative: Scrub clams and place in a heavy pot over two to three cups water. Cover and cook until clams are open. Pour off and reserve three cups of clam broth so that the sand stays in the pot. When cool enough to handle, remove clams from shells and chop roughly.)
Put the olive oil in a heavy pot and cook onions until softened. Add the leeks and celery and cook until soft. Add garlic and crumbled smoked bluefish. Add potatoes and rosé and cook until the alcohol has bubbled out and the potatoes are beginning to soften. Add the reserved clam liquid, thyme, bay leaf, and pepper to taste.
Simmer until potatoes are soft, then add chopped clams and heat until just simmering. Remove from heat and discard the thyme and bay leaf.
Taste for seasoning and serve.
South Edison Chowder
20 chowder clams
1/2 cup white wine
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 whole heads of garlic, sliced horizontally
so the flesh of each clove is exposed
2 fresh bay leaves
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1/4 cup homemade or store-bought bacon lardoons
1/4 cup finely minced shallots
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/4 cup finely minced celery
1/4 cup finely minced leeks
1/4 cup hickory smoked and charred corn,
kernels removed from the cob (home cooks can char it on a grill)
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup baby marble potatoes (or diced, unpeeled potatoes)
Green tops of leeks
Fresh bay leaf
1/4 cup tomatoes, skinned, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
2 Tbsp. finely minced thyme leaves
2 Tbsp. finely minced chives
2 Tbsp. finely minced parsley
In a large stockpot, steam open the chowder clams with white wine, sprigs of thyme, cut heads of garlic, bay leaves, and peppercorns.
Once the clams open, remove them from the pot and strain the clam stock from the vegetables, reserving stock in a separate container.
When the clams are cool, julienne into bite-sized pieces.
In a separate pot, render the bacon until crisp. Transfer to a cooling plate. Strain and reserve the bacon fat.
Saute the shallots, crushed garlic, celery, leeks, and smoked corn in the bacon fat in the stockpot. Cook until softened.
Pour reserved clam stock, whole milk, and heavy cream over the softened vegetables.
Add the potatoes and a bouquet garni and cook until the potatoes are soft.
Add the chopped clams, the crisped bacon, and chopped tomatoes. Bring to a boil.
Remove the bouquet garni.
Just before serving, stir in the fresh thyme, chives, and parsley. Season to taste with kosher salt.