For 16 years, Sarah Glover has made a career as a chef in Tasmania, Sydney and New York. These days she is rarely found in a kitchen—the outdoors is where she applies her trade now. Her work has been published through her cookbook, "Wild Adventure," and featured in Cherry Bomb, New York Times, and Delicious Magazine.
Smoked Clam Chowder
A Taste of Wild - New England
Sarah Glover is back with a brand new set of road-friendly recipes, inspired by the coastal landscape of New England.
Smoked Clam Chowder
While in Maine, I wanted to create a recipe combining all my passions—fire, smoke and seafood. My craving for chowder and the clam-filled coastline of Maine made clam chowder the perfect easy, yet satisfying dish to indulge in. This recipe is the perfect crowd pleaser. You may find yourself going back for seconds, or even thirds.
I'd been waiting all my life for a chance to tour New England, so when one presented itself, I jumped at it. So much American culture features the tropes of New England—from the dizzying array of accents to freshly caught lobster to sandy white beaches watched over by historic lighthouses.
The terrain was similar to my native Australian beaches, but everything else felt different. I knew I wanted to indulge in some local seafood recipes and make a quintessentially American lunch for myself—clam chowder.
Clams are abundant along the East Coast, from littlenecks to topnecks to cherrystones to "chowders," so-called because they're big and meaty and perfect for soup. They're so prevalent, they became a popular option for a hearty meal among the American Catholics in New England, who typically abstained from meat on Fridays. Clams were nature's bounty, just washing up on shore, ready to be cooked.
I chose New England clam chowder because I love the blend of flavors in such a velvety, cream-based soup. Manhattan clam chowder, made with tomatoes, seems a bit controversial. At one point, Maine legislature debated whether or not to outlaw the use of tomatoes in clam chowder. So why mess with perfection?
There's something domestic about New England clam chowder on a cool summer night. It's warm, it's homey, and it's more comfort food than soup, but it feels like the perfect thing when the sun has set and the breeze coming off the ocean turns chilly.
- 24 medium clams, rinsed
- 1/4 lb. slab bacon
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 leeks, tops removed, halved and cleaned, then sliced into half moons
- 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups light cream
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Crackers, to serve
- Wood or charcoal for fire
- Large Dutch oven
- Sieve and cheesecloth or paper towels
- Cutting board
Light your fire and let it burn down for 1 hour until you have nice coals. (Or use hardwood charcoal.)
Put the clams in a large Dutch oven, add about 4 cups ocean water, then set over medium–high heat. Cover and cook for 10–15 minutes or until the clams have opened. (Any clams that fail to open should be discarded.) Strain the clam broth through a sieve lined with cheesecloth or doubled-up paper towels and reserve for later. Remove the clams from the shells and set aside.
Cook the bacon over the coals for 4 minutes or until cooked to your liking, then cut into any size you like.
Rinse out the pot and return it to the heat. Add the butter and let it melt, then add the leek and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or until softened but not browned. Stir in the potatoes and wine and cook for another 5 minutes or until the wine has evaporated and the potatoes have just started to soften. Pour in enough of the clam broth to just cover the potatoes (about 3 cups) and add the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Partially cover the pot and simmer gently for a further 10–15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
Meanwhile, roughly chop the clams.
When the potatoes are nice and tender, add the cream and stir in the chopped clams and bacon. Season to taste. Bring to a simmer, then remove the pot from the heat. (You don’t want the chowder to come to a full boil.) Fish out and discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf.
The chowder should be allowed to sit for a while to cure, at least 2 hours. Gently reheat before serving. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with crackers on the side.