- 4 ounces salt pork, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups clam liquor, clam broth, bottled clam juice, or a combination
- 3 cups whole or low-fat milk
- 4-5 cups diced all-purpose potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons dried
- 3 cups coarsely chopped hard-shell clams
- 2 cups half-and-half
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
1. Cook the salt pork in a large soup pot over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the pork bits are crispy, about 10 minutes. Remove the pork bits with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels (refrigerate until ready to serve), leaving the drippings in the pan.
2. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle on the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
3. Add the clam liquor and milk, whisking until smooth. Add the potatoes and dried thyme, if using. Simmer, uncovered, over medium heat for 10 minutes.
4. Add the clams and fresh thyme, if using, and stir in the half-and-half. Continue to simmer until the potatoes are very tender, 5 to 10 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and let the chowder cool to room temperature for at least an hour or referigerate up to 2 days.
5. Before serving, add the butter and reheat gently. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the reserved pork bits, if desired.
You can buy chopped fresh clams in their juice from a fishmarket or seafood section of the supermarket, and use their juice ("liquor") for part of the chowder liquid. Or use 5 quarts scrubbed hard-shell clams and steam them in a small amount of water just until they open, about 5 minutes. Then scrape out the clam meat and chop or cut it with scissors into cranberry-sized pieces. Pour the cooking liquid into a glass measuring cup, let any sediment settle, and pour off the clean broth.
from Dishing Up Maine
Yield: 6-8 main course servings servings