Sarge's New England Clam Chowder
Try this great New England clam chowder recipe courtesy of Ben Sargent.
- 15 pounds quahog clams (about 3 inches each), cleaned
- 2 1/4 pounds steamer clams, cleaned
- 1 pound razor clams, cleaned
- 1 tablespoon white wine
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
- 1/4 pound salt pork, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1/4 pound bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 pounds medium Yukon Gold potatoes, partially peeled and cut into quarters
- 2 large sweet onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 small bulb fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced lengthwise (1/2 cup)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons unsalted best-quality butter, plus more for serving
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 6 cups heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon Peter Luger's Old Fashioned Steak Sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning mix
- 5 capers
- 5 drops Worcestershire sauce
- Chopped chives, for garnish
- Flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
- Oyster crackers, for garnish
In a 12-quart stockpot, tightly pack the quahogs, then the steamers, and finally the razor clams. Add 6 cups cold water, wine, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Cover, and place over high heat, and cook until clams open, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the salt pork in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until browned, about 10 minutes. As rendered fat accumulates, pour into a heatproof glass measuring cup. Transfer pork to a plate lined with paper towels, reserving all rendered fat; set aside. Wipe out skillet with a paper towel; add bacon. Cook over medium heat until cooked through, but not crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to a second plate lined with paper towels; set aside.
When the clams have opened, pour cooking liquid into a large saucepan, leaving any sediment behind. Set a few steamers and razor clams aside for garnish. Remove the meat from the remaining clams. Remove the siphons from the steamers; discard. Cut meat into 1-inch pieces, being careful not to sever the stomachs of the quahogs.
In a clean stock pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and cook until they begin to soften, about 20 minutes. Add onions, fennel, and garlic; cook 5 minutes. Add butter and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking for 5 minutes more.
Add 6 cups of the reserved cooking liquid, rendered fat, heavy cream, dill, and chopped clam meat. Cook 10 minutes. Add bacon, and continue cooking for 20 minutes. Add steak sauce, old bay, capers; season with salt and pepper. Using the back of a large spoon, mash about half of the potatoes to break them up into smaller pieces. Cook for 10 minutes; stir in Worcestershire sauce. Adjust flavor using sugar, as desired.
Continue cooking for about 30 minutes. Place reserved razor clams and steamer clams into bowls, ladle over soup, placing a pat of butter in the center of each bowl. Serve garnished with salt pork cracklings, chives, parsley, and crackers, as desired.