This is soooooo good. The smell that you get from this when you have the leeks and the onions and the bacon and celery and scallions – ohhhh boy. Its the smell of warmth and love in the winter time. And the Johnny Cakes along with it add that crisp corn flavor that makes my mouth so very happy.
NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER WITH JOHNNY CAKES
8 to 10 Servings
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr 15 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 45 mins
Clam Chowder :
8 pounds littleneck clams (cleaned, open or cracked clams discarded)
4 cups water
4 strips bacon (finely chopped)
2 stalks celery (finely diced)
1 small yellow onion (peeled, finely diced)
1 medium leek (white and light green parts only, thoroughly rinsed, finely diced)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 lemon (peeled, peels reserved)
4 cups whole milk
2 bay leaves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated)
1 small Yukon gold potato (peeled, finely diced)
1/4 small celery root (peeled, finely diced)
4 scallions (root ends removed, thinly sliced)
1/2 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
Johnny Cakes :
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup white cornmeal
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the New England Chowder:
In a large heavy bottomed pot, over high heat, add clams and water. Bring to a boil and cook clams just until they open, about 8-10 minutes. Discard any clams that have not opened. Using a slotted spoon, remove the clams from the water, and allow to cool slightly. Once cool enough to handle, remove clam meat from shells to a medium bowl and set aside.
Strain the clam cooking liquid and transfer to a medium saucepan, keeping over very low heat until ready to use.
In a large Dutch oven over medium, add the bacon an cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 4-5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon to paper towel-lined plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat into a small bowl, and return Dutch oven to stove top. Add the celery, onion, and leek to the pan, cooking until soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the flour, stirring to coat vegetables. Stir in the thyme and lemon peels. Stir in the reserved clam cooking liquid, milk and bay leaves and nutmeg. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 30-40 minutes. (TK TIME?) Season with salt and pepper. Remove and discard thyme sprigs, lemon peels and bay leaves. Stir in the heavy cream.
Meanwhile, in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of reserved bacon fat. Add potato and celery root, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and transfer to a medium bowl. Add cooked bacon and scallions and toss to combine.
Stir clam meat into chowder, divide chowder evenly amongst bowls, and top with bowl with a heaping tablespoon of potato mixture and serve with a Johnny Cakes on the side.
For the Johnny Cakes:
In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil.
In a large bowl, whisk together the white cornmeal, salt and pepper. Remove the boiling water from heat and gradually add the cornmeal mixture, stirring to combine. Stir in the milk.
In a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Ladle 1/4 cup of cornmeal batter into the pan, and cook until the top begins to bubble and the bottom is golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook until opposite side is golden brown, another 1-2 minutes. Remove to a plate and repeat with remaining batter.
Tip: If you’re fishmonger doesn’t have fresh clams, this chowder is excellent with oysters, seared scallops or even some sauteed shrimp!