The Island’s growing season begins late and ends late. By the end of September the nights are cool, but corn is still growing down at Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown. It’s the perfect time of year for a fireside dinner with this colorful, brothy chowder. This recipe calls for no salt, because the bacon and clams give off enough naturally.
Succotash Chowder with Littleneck Clams
5 strips of bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 yellow onion, diced
1 shallot, diced
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
2 cups clam broth
3 cups heavy cream
½ cup white wine
7 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
½ cup fresh corn kernels, or frozen organic if fresh is unavailable
½ cup red bell pepper, diced
½ cup lima beans, blanched if fresh
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
In a heavy 6-quart saucepan, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove the bacon, leaving the fat in the pan. Set the bacon aside on a paper towel to drain. Lower the heat and add the onion and shallot to the bacon fat. Sauté gently for about 10 minutes, making sure they don’t brown. Stir in the thyme and parsley. Pour in the clam broth and turn up the heat to boil gently for about 5 minutes. Add the cream, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit.
In another 6-quart pot, bring the wine to a boil. Set aside 24 of the clams and add the rest. Cover and cook for about 8 minutes. As soon as the clams pop open, remove them from the heat so they don’t overcook and toughen. Discard any clams that do not open. When the opened clams have cooled, remove them from their shells and chop them into thirds (approximately). Littlenecks are small and tender, and do not need to be minced.
Heat the oil in a sauté pan. Add the corn, red pepper, and lima beans. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
To finish the chowder, add the chopped clams, succotash mixture, and crispy bacon to the cream base. Season as needed with black pepper. Let the chowder sit for at least an hour or refrigerate overnight.
When ready to serve, heat the chowder gently over low heat with the 24 unopened clams, until the clams open. Divide among bowls, including the clams still in their shells.
Recipe from “Vineyard Harvest: A Year of Good Food on Martha’s Vineyard,” by Tina Miller with Christie Matheson, photos by Alison Shaw.