James Beard Award-winning chef Mike Wiley, co-owner of Eventide in Portland, Maine, joins us to discuss his new cookbook Eventide: Recipes for Clambakes, Oysters, Lobster Rolls, and More from a Modern Maine Seafood Shack, as part of our "Summer in Place" series.
New England Clam Chowder
SERVES 4 TO 6
5 pounds live chowder clams
2 pounds live steamer clams
2 (2-inch) pieces dried kombu
2 cups water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, diced 1 pound medium-starch potatoes (like Yukon gold or Kennebec), peeled and diced
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon freshly cracked or ground black pepper
Leaves from 1 to 2 thyme sprigs
1⁄4 pound homemade Salt Pork store-bought bacon (optional)
2 or 3 sheets nori
Minced chives for garnish
Chive Oil (recipe follows) for garnish
Saltine Crackers for serving
Fill two separate bowls with cold, clean water that has been seasoned with kosher salt to taste like seawater. In a colander, rinse the exterior dirt from both types of clams and then submerge them separately in the bowls of water. Leave them to sit for 30 minutes to encourage them to release their grit. Drain the clams separately in a colander, rinsing them under running water, and shake them gently to drain. Rinse the pieces of kombu and set aside.
In a pot, combine the chowder clams, water, and 1 piece of kombu and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer, cover, and cook until the clams have just opened, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the clams to a bowl, keeping the liquid in the pot. Add the steamer clams and the second piece of kombu to the broth, and repeat. Transfer the steamers to a bowl and strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a separate bowl. Pick the meat from both types of clams, keeping the two types of clams in separate bowls and making sure to remove the muddy sheath from the siphon of the steamer clams. Place the clams in cold, fresh water and agitate them with your hands for a minute or so to remove any excess sand. Drain and coarsely chop the chowder clams but keep the steamer clams whole.
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. When the butter is just sizzling, add the onion and potatoes and cook until they soften and start to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the strained clam juice, cream, black pepper, and thyme and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped clams and stir to incorporate and warm them.
Line a plate with paper towels. Cut the salt pork into either 1⁄4-inch slices or 1 by 1⁄4 by 1⁄4-inch cubes (also known as lardons) and cook in a hot skillet for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until nicely browned. Transfer to the paper towel–lined plate.
Holding the sheets of nori with tongs, wave them separately over a gas burner flame a few times until they become lighter in color and fragrant (or heat a large skillet on high heat and toast the nori on both sides for 30 seconds).
Ladle the finished chowder into four to six bowls, aiming for about two parts broth to one part chunky goodness. Add a couple of pieces of salt pork and a crushed half sheet of nori to each bowl. Garnish with chives and chive oil. Serve immediately with saltines.
MAKES 2 CUPS
1 large bunch chives (or any
vibrant green herb like scallions,
parsley, oregano, or basil),
2 cups canola oil
Set up a large bowl of ice water. In a blender, puree the chives with the oil for 1 to 2 minutes to really extract all the chlorophyll from the herb. Pour the puree into a small pot and bring it up to 216°F over medium-high heat. Pour into a heatproof container and place the container in the ice water to chill it completely. Use immediately or strain the oil through a fine-mesh strainer and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Note: When we want an herb oil, most of the time we’re after that vivid green color to provide some visual appeal to a dish. But since the oils retain quite a bit of the flavor of the herb, we’re also careful to make sure the herb oil makes sense with the profile of the dish. Think complementarity. For example, if a dish is anise-heavy, use tarragon oil. If it’s allium-heavy, use chive oil. And so on.
Reprinted from Eventide. Copyright © 2020 by Arlin Smith, Andrew Taylor, and Mike Wiley