The New England clam chowder gets a modern makeover as this
year marks our 50th birthday. There are many varieties of chowder
in the US, but the New England style is a favourite. Crackers can
be crumbled in to thicken it, or you can just dip them in as you
40 gm butter, coarsely chopped200 gm rindless bacon, chopped2 celery stalks, finely chopped1 onion, finely chopped120 ml dry white wine1 kg clams, soaked in cold water for 1 hour to remove grit750 ml (3 cups) chicken stock750 gm Desiree potatoes (about 3), quartered and thickly sliced125 ml (½ cup) pouring cream1 dried bay leaf2skinless bream fillets (400gm), pin-boned and cut into 3cm-4cm pieces12 scallops, white muscle trimmed2 tbsp coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus extra to serveSaltine crackers, to serve
Melt butter in a large saucepan over high heat. Add bacon, celery and onion, and sauté until vegetables are softened (about 10 minutes).
Meanwhile, bring wine to the boil in a separate large saucepan, add clams, cover with a lid and cook, shaking pan occasionally, until the clams open (2-3 minutes). Strain through a fine sieve, set clams aside to cool briefly and add cooking liquid to the bacon mixture along with the stock. Remove the clam meat from most of the shells, reserving a few in their shells for garnish.
Bring stock mixture to the boil over mediumhigh heat, add potato, cream and bay leaf, and simmer uncovered until potato is tender, coarsely breaking it up with a wooden spoon towards the end of cooking (15-20 minutes). Add bream, reduce heat to medium and simmer chowder uncovered until bream is almost cooked through (4-5 minutes). Add scallops and simmer until almost cooked (1 minute), then stir in parsley and reserved clams and clam meat and season to taste. Scatter with extra parsley and serve hot with saltine crackers for dipping or breaking into chowder.