Updated: Nov 14, 2020
Now I do have several versions of clam chowder on this blog, it is one of my favorite dishes and a few weeks ago I made it again only this time I did a little variation on my Grandmother recipe. I also held back some of the clams and cooked them in the soup, as shown in the picture. I thought it made a better presentation, I did also hold back on the salt since. you really do not know how much salt the closed clams will release to the dish.
I also made it spicey and used fresh tomatoes instead of canned, which created more work and time but it turned out great in the end.
48 Cherrystone clams (Littlenecks, top-necks, they are all the same)
2 8oz bottles of clam juice
6 to 8 plum tomatoes, chopped and seeds removed
6 to 8 fingerling potatoes, diced
3 shallots, diced
1/4 lb of pancetta, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 jalapeno, diced and seeds removed
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 sprigs of fresh, thyme leaves removed and stem discarded
1 teaspoon of fresh Italian parsley, minced
In a large saucepan drizzle some olive oil and place over medium heat, add tomatoes, and saute until they start to break down about 10 to 15 minutes, you want them to break down and release their juices but not to render them off. Remove from heat, add garlic, stir and pour into a bowl and set aside.
In the same saucepan, placed over med-high heat, add pancetta and saute to render off fat and the pieces are just about crisp, off all but tablespoons of fat, add the shallots, celery, and carrots to saucepan and saute for 10 minutes until soft. Now add the potatoes, jalapeno, and saute for an additional 10 minutes. Return the tomatoes to the saucepan along with the bottles of clam juice, bring to a boil, reduce, and simmer for about 20 minutes.
In a large deep skillet over high heat add the washed clams, hold back 3 clams per-serving, add enough water to cover the clams in about 2 inches of water, cover, bring to boil, reduce heat and shake, as clams open, remove them from skillet and continue until all clams have opened. If any do not open after 15 to 20 minutes, discard them. Strain the cooking water to remove any debris, return to skillet and reduce to about 4 cups, then add to saucepan with the tomato mixture.
Once cooked clams are cool enough to handle, remove from shells, and rough chop,
Now add the un-cooked clams to the saucepan, thyme, and cook for about 5 minutes or until they open, remove from heat and add the chopped clams, cover and let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve, try to get 3 clams in the shell per-bowl, and garnish with parsley.