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Drake Hotel New England Clam Chowder

Source: Christian Bruhns, sous-chef -  Cape Cod Room at The Drake Hotel, Chicago, Illinois - St. Louis Post-Dispatch - 7/17/00

Clam Stock
3 tablespoons butter
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 medium onion, peeled and diced
3 ribs celery, diced
3 to 4 crushed peppercorns
4 cups white wine
4 cups fish stock (see note)
1 bay leaf
2 pounds whole fresh clams (the hotel uses
    topneck clams; see note)

13 tablespoons butter, divided
5 ribs celery, diced
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 large Idaho potato, cubed
2 quarts clam stock
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 pinch thyme
1/2 bay leaf
Ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups heavy (40%) cream

To prepare stock, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a 3-quart stockpot. Skim off foam. Add carrots, onion, celery and crushed peppercorns. Saut? until vegetables soften. Stir in wine, fish stock and bay leaf. Bring mixture to a boil. Scrub clams. Add to pot. Cover; simmer for about 10 minutes or until clams open.

Remove clams from pot with a slotted spoon. Pull out meat from clams. Chop meat; set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.

Strain stock; set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.

To prepare chowder: In another 3-quart stockpot, melt 6 tablespoons butter. Add celery, onion and potato. Saut? until vegetables soften. Stir in clam stock, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste. Add chopped clam meat. Cook over medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

In a separate saucepan, melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Gradually stir in flour to form a light paste, or roux. Remove from heat. Gradually whisk roux into chowder. Let simmer for about 10 minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken.

Remove from heat. Stir in cream.

Yield: 12 to 16 servings.

NOTES: The Drake Hotel makes its own fish stock. Chef Bruhns recommends using the bones of red snapper or turbot; you can follow any cookbook recipe to make the stock, Bruhns says.

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