When developing Hog Island’s chowder recipe, co-founder John Finger gave the chef strict instructions to use only whole, fresh Manila clams (that Hog Island sustainably farms), fresh organic produce — and no flour to thicken it.
“Where I grew up [Long Island, NY], nobody puts flour in their chowder. A simple combination of fresh ingredients from the garden and the sea, thrown together in a pot, now that's chowder.” says Finger.
The result is a fresh, creamy broth surrounding a mass of tiny sweet clams, and chunks of rustic potato, carrots, leeks and bacon. Simplicity at it's best.
Yield: 6-8 servings
Active time: 30 min. total time 1 hr
• 1/2 pound high quality bacon, sliced
• 1/2 stalk celery, thinly sliced
• 2 large leek, white part only, thinly sliced on the diagonal
• 1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
• 3 sprigs fresh thyme
• 2 Tbsp. butter
• 8-10 medium-size Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered into bite-size cubes. Do not peel!
• 6 pounds small, raw Hog Island® Manila clams in the shell, rinsed (note: Hog Island estimates ~3/4 lb. of clams per serving)
• 1 quart heavy cream
• Salt and pepper
• Parsley for garnish
First step: place clams in a colander in the kitchen sink and rinse throughoughly under running water. Pick through and discard clams with broken or open shells. Allow clams to drain in the sink while you prepare your stock base.
BASE: In a large stock pot bring about 5-6 cups of water to a boil (no salt) and cook the potatoes until al dente, or just before fork-tender.
While the potatoes are boiling, in a second heavy-bottom pot melt the butter with the thyme. Render the bacon in the butter and thyme (over low heat, careful not to burn); once bacon is rendered add leeks and celery, cook until vegetables are translucent. Add carrots and cook until bendable without breaking. Add the potatoes and 4 cups of potato water. The base can be made (up to one day) ahead and kept chilled.
CLAMS: Portion your clams out per single serving (~3/4 lb per serving) and cook each serving individually. Working in batches, place a single serving of clams in a heavy bottomed sauté pan over medium heat. Ladle one cup of the chowder base on top and cover the pan, simmer for about 5-6 minutes, or until the majority of clams open. Skim through and pick out any clams that have not opened. (Don’t skip this step — unopened clams may spoil the chowder.)
Add in 1/2-cup cream per serving and bring the chowder to a simmer. If it is too thick, add in more of the potato water. When the chowder is bubbling in the middle, it is ready to serve. Pour individual servings into a large soup bowl.
Serve garnished with cracked pepper and chopped parsley. Don't forget to place extra empty bowls on the table for discarding clam shells.