Manhattan Clam Chowder
This cosmopolitan take on that other classic is dressed up with hearty pancetta, musky fresh oregano, and an innovative Marsala-spiked broth, adding elegance to any meal.
- 3 cups water
- 2 dozen cherrystone or littleneck clams, scrubbed (2 cups clam meat)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 ounces pancetta, sliced 1/2 inch thick and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced (1 tablespoon)
- 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Marsala wine (optional)
- 1 can (28 ounces) whole plum tomatoes, strained, juices reserved, tomatoes finely chopped
- 1 potato, preferably Yukon Gold, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add clams, cover, and cook until shells open, about 10 minutes. Transfer clams to a large bowl, reserving cooking liquid. Discard any clams that do not open. Remove meat from shells, and return to bowl. Discard shells. Pour reserved liquid through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth into a large bowl (you should have 2 1/2 cups). Sprinkle a few tablespoons liquid over clams to keep them moist.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add pancetta, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Pour off excess drippings, leaving just enough to coat bottom of pot. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and reduce heat to medium. Add onion, celery, garlic, and red-pepper flakes, and cook, scraping bottom of pot, until vegetables are light gold, about 7 minutes.
Raise heat to high, and stir in Marsala if desired. Add tomatoes, 1 cup reserved tomato juice, 2 1/2 cups reserved clam broth, and the potato. Reduce heat, and simmer until potato is tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
Cut large clams in half. Stir clams, pancetta, parsley, and oregano into broth, and heat until warmed through, about 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.