SMOKED SUMMER CLAM CHOWDER
Move over New England Clam and Manhattan Clam Chowders and step up Smoked Summer Clam Chowder. Historically the first "clam chowders" didn't have dairy added at all and were thickened with breadcrumbs. This makes Rhode Island and Connecticut style chowders the more traditional versions. This "clear" chowder is a lighter version and perfect for a summer meal with freshly dug, frozen or canned clams.
1 pound shucked razor clams
2 cups cold water, for brine
2 tablespoons salt, for brine
6 slices thick bacon
1 onion, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
3 cups clam juice
2 cups chicken broth
6 small red potatoes, chopped
3 dried bay leaves
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1-2 tablespoons capers, optional
Juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
In a medium bowl, dissolve 2 tablespoons salt in 2 cups of cold water. Add clams, stir well, soak, and refrigerate, 30-60 minutes.
Drain clams and discard brine. Place clams directly on smoker racks or if small, place on teflon screens atop smoker racks. Place bacon on a smoker rack.
Prepare Little Chief Smoker or Big Chief Smoker by filling pan with chips of choice. Always make sure clean foil lines the smoker to avoid off-flavors. Preheat smoker until chips begin to smoke. Place rack with bacon over the racks with clams to avoid any dripping. Smoke 45 minutes, using 1 pan of chips.
Remove smoked bacon and clams from smoker and chop into bite sized pieces.
In a large skillet, fry bacon on medium heat to slowly render fat. Once bacon has become browned and crisp, remove from the fat and set aside. Add onions to bacon fat and caramelize on medium heat, 7-10 minutes. Add celery, garlic and carrots and continue to saute another 5 minutes.
Add onion mixture to a large pan or a dutch oven and increase heat to medium-high. Add clam juice, chicken broth, bay leaves and thyme and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender. Add clams and continue cooking 2-3 minutes. Add crisped bacon, lemon juice, parsley and dill to the chowder. Serve immediately, garnishing with more fresh herbs if desired.
Recipe by: Tiffany Haugen
*Smoke Flavor Guide
For a mild smoke flavor, use Apple or Alder Wood Chips
For a medium smoke flavor, use Cherry or Smokehouse Blend Wood Chips
For a stronger smoke flavor, use Hickory or Mesquite Wood Chips