I'll Take Manhattan

Before I started making Cowgirl Granola, David and I traveled a lot. And I mean a lot.  

Nearly every other month or two, we'd fly (or on occasion drive) off to somewhere fabulous. For both business and pleasure. San Francisco. Houston. Santa Fe. Mexico City. Austin. Miami. Sun Valley. Zihuatanejo or Cancun. New York.

Ah, New York. Nothing much beats a visit to this magical city. You can do anything, eat anything and buy anything in New York. Now that's what I call a perfect city. And we did. Do anything, eat anything and buy anything and everything we wanted. It was gluttonous, I admit, and we loved each and every minute.

Since David was born and raised in the city, we'd stop in all of his favorite hauntsfor food, art and shopping. And I'd hit my favorites as well. Throw in a play or two and we were in heaven.

One thing we always agree on is where to eat. And Grand Central Oyster Bar is one of the stops on our hit list. We generally slide in for a late lunch, about 2 pm, after everyone else has eaten and the place is less frenetic, but there's still plenty of energy left in the restaurant. We belly up to the bar, order a glass of white wine and we start with soup.

David would get the Manhattan Clam Chowder and I always had the New England Clam Chowder. Yes, we'd share, but I never got much of David's. And afterwards I'd be groaning that "I should have had the Manhattan" as the cream killed me! But I never learned.

Until now. Now I know better and, fortunately, I have learned to make an amazingly fabulous Manhattan Clam Chowder. Which is great since I don't get away that much anymore.

But I'm not complaining.

Now that fall is here, this is my inaugural pot of soup. Just so you'll know, I'll take Manhattan over New England any day.

Buen provecho!

Manhattan Clam Chowder
The Cowgirl Gourmet merely moderately modified Emeril Lagasse's recipe

Print Recipe

This classic chowder is absolutely fantastic, hearty and yet still healthy. The trick is to use 1 1/2 pounds of chopped clams along with the clam juice. As fresh as possible. And as with any soup, it's always better the next day, so perhaps you'll want to make it a day in advance.

Serves 6-8

1 thick slice of pancetta (1/4 lb.), chopped or you could use several slices of thick bacon (no nitrates), chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 ribs of celery with leaves, diced
3-4 carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
1 long sprig of fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 lb. red potatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (organic if you can find them), chopped or crushed with your hands and juices reserved
4 cups seafood stock or clam juice (you could also use chicken or vegetable stock, but seafood or clam is preferred)
1 1/2 lbs. chopped clams with all the juice
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper

In a large stock pot, add the pancetta or bacon and cook until golden and crispy.

Salty and peppery pancetta

Crispy pancetta

Remove the pork and add the chopped onions, celery, carrot and bell pepper and cook for 10 minutes, until veggies are softened. You do not want these vegetables to caramelize, just sauteed a bit.

Add the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, oregano and crushed red pepper and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.

Increase the heat to high and add the potatoes, seafood or clam broth, reserved pancetta or bacon and bring to a boil.

Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are almost tender and the broth has thickened a bit. The starch from the potatoes will help thicken the broth.

Then add the tomatoes and their juices and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add the clams and their juice along with the parsley. Stir and taste the broth and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.

1 1/2 lbs. of fresh chopped clams

Allow chowder to sit for up to one hour so flavors can meld.

When ready to serve, reheat slowly over low fire, not allowing the soup to boil. Remove the herb stems and bay leaves and serve immediately with crusty bread.

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