Clam chowder has a rich history; originally served on Fridays in order to provide a seafood alternative to those Catholics abstaining from meat (which used to be a requirement before Vatican II relaxed the rules), the tradition has survived and the dish is a popular Friday meal.
So next Friday, why not have a change from fish and chips, and try this recipe, courtesy of the fine people at Sam's Brasserie in West London.
New England Clam, Salt Cod and Bacon Chowder
16 large or 32 small clams
50g streaky bacon, cut into small dice
110g onions, diced
225g potatoes, diced but not washed
1 fresh bay leaf, cut into fine shreds, or 1 dried bay leaf, crushed
cooking liquor from the clams
100g salt cod fillet, skinned and cut into 1cm pieces
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 ready-made water biscuits, broken into little pieces
1. Wash and scrub the clams then place them in a large pan with a splash of water.
2. Cover tightly and cook over a high heat.
3. As soon as the clams are open, take the pan off the heat and drain them in a colander, saving the cooking liquor in a bowl.
4. When cool enough to handle, remove the clams from their shells and cut the meat into 1cm pieces.
5. Melt the butter in a pan then fry the bacon until it starts to brown. Add the onions and fry until softened.
6. Place the potatoes in a separate large pan with the milk, cream and bay leaf. Bring to the boil then reduce to a slow simmer until just cooked but still firm.
7. Add the bacon, onions and clam cooking liquor and simmer for a further five minutes then add the salt cod fillet.
8. Simmer until the fish is cooked, then add the clams.
9. Warm through then season with salt (if necessary) and freshly ground white pepper.
10. Pour the chowder into serving bowls and garnish with the chopped parsley and the water biscuits.