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Clam Chowder with Crispy Prosciutto Ribbons

 

Which side of the "Chowdah" fence are you on? The Manhattan side, with its tomato-based broth, or the New England side with its thick, creamy base? I grew up on the New England side, but I'm not so strict with my preparation – I like to experiment. This recipe has a little twist in the fact that red potatoes replace white ones, as their texture holds up nicely — and instead of bacon, I use crispy prosciutto ribbons. This gives the soup added crunch and saltiness. A glass of Chardonnay will always pair well with the cream and the clams.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds little neck clams (about 36 clams)
  • 3 thin slices prosciutto, cut into strips
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 16 ounces bottled clam juice
  • 2-3 medium red potatoes, 3/4 inch dice
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2  large shallots, small dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, small dice
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh chives for garnish

Begin by scrubbing the clams under cold water to remove any dirt or grit. Place 1 cup of water in a saucepan, bringing to a boil. Add the clams and cover for 3-4 minutes. Remove the lid and any clams that have opened. Return the lid and cook for another 3-4 minutes, repeating the process of removing any opened clams. If any of the clams do not open after 8 minutes, discard them. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve with a cheesecloth. Repeat 2-3 times and reserve the broth. Once the clams are cool, you can remove them from the shells, then chop the meat in half. In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil and fry the prosciutto in batches until crispy. Remove and and drain on a paper towel and set aside.

Combine the 16 ounces of bottled clam juice and the reserved clam broth inside a medium pot, bringing to a boil. Once boiling, add the potatoes and cook over medium until a knife can easily be inserted but does not break the potato, about 8-10 minutes.

Once potatoes are done, add the heavy cream and keep warm. While the potatoes are cooking, melt the butter in a small saucepan and cook the shallot and garlic until soft and translucent. Add the flour to the butter mixture and stir until thickened to create a roux. Combine this roux and the chopped clams to the potatoes, bringing to a slight simmer.

Garnish with prosciutto, chive, salt and pepper.

Serve with slices of fresh crusty bread, and you have a meal that will definitely take the chill out of your weekend.