When this recipe was requested by a Country Grocer shopper, we decided to make it healthier than the traditional New England chowder. We used coconut milk instead of heavy cream and potatoes to thicken the base instead of flour.
Preheat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until golden brown. Set aside and save 1 tablespoon of bacon fat.
Add russet potatoes and coconut milk to a small pot over medium heat. Once liquid begins to simmer, reduce heat to low and cook covered until potatoes are very soft, approximately 20 minutes. Mash potatoes with a fork or potato masher until the coconut milk and potatoes become a smooth mixture (alternatively you can add to a small food processor or blender). Set aside.
In a large pot over medium heat, add bacon fat, onion and celery. Cook until vegetables are wilted but not browned. Add garlic, bay leaf and thyme and cook for one minute more.
Reduce heat to low, add bacon, clam nectar and red potatoes and gently simmer covered until potatoes are soft, approximately 15 minutes.
Slowly add potato and coconut mixture to nectar, stirring continuously. Remove from heat, cool for 5 minutes and then add clams. Let stand for 1 hour covered in the fridge to marry flavours.
Reheat over high heat (avoid boiling the mixture as this will make the clams tough). Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with parsley.
1 hour 35 mins
For a little bite add 1/8 teaspoon of chilli flakes to the coconut milk and potatoes in step 2.
Serving this dish with homemade whole-wheat croutons or in a whole-wheat bread bowl gives this dish a comforting touch
Add 1 teaspoon of curry powder or infuse the stock with lemon grass for an ethnic variation