Amanda & Merrill

Bay Scallop Chowder

December 17, 2010

Bay Scallop Chowder

- Amanda

My family celebrates Christmas eve by sitting down to a big dinner. Back when my siblings and I were in our 20s, these meals were long, epic affairs that lasted until midnight and beyond. Now that we all have kids, they tend to be more punctuated but more lively with lots of adult and child banter (last year we had grilled oysters, roasted pork, and about 857 cookies).

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This bay scallop chowder, clipped from Food & Wine in 1998, makes its appearance at our holiday table every few years. It's a terrific starter course because most of it can be made ahead, and it feeds a crowd.

Bay Scallop Chowder

Adapted from Patrick Clark, the former chef at the Tavern on the Green, via Food & Wine

Serves 12

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces thickly sliced smoked bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 6 cups bottled clam broth
  • 6 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
  • Bouquet garni made with 2 bay leaves, 5 fresh parsley sprigs, 3 fresh thyme sprigs and 8 black peppercorns, wrapped in cheesecloth
  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 large leeks, white and tender green, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/8 inch thick
  • 1 1/2 pounds bay scallops, membranes removed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives

1. Melt the butter in a large enameled cast-iron casserole. Add the bacon and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes.

2. Add the clam broth, chicken stock and bouquet garni to the casserole and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to moderately high heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. (The recipe can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to a boil before proceeding.)

3. Add the diced potatoes to teh soup and cook over moderately high heat until just tender, about 10 minutes. Discard the bouquet garni.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk 1/4 cup of the heavy cream with the cornstarch until smooth. Whisk in the remaining 2 cups cream, then whisk the mixture into the soup. Bring the soup to a boil over moderately high heat. Add the leeks and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. (The chowder can stand at room temperature for up to 3 hours. Rewarm before finishing.)

5. Stir the scallops into the chowder and cook over moderate heat just until opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes; don't let the soup boil. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the chowder into a tureen or individual bowls. Garnish with the chopped chives and serve at once.

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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msitter December 20, 2010
Hi. The chowder and the menu sound special. It is also nice to be reminded of Patrick Clark who had a great hand. Patrick had a slow cooker and other electronic appliances brought into his hospital room so he could eat well while waiting for a heart transplant.
Amanda H. December 20, 2010
I forgot about that hospital detail -- love that!
lapadia December 18, 2010
A wonderful chowder recipe, Amanda! For many years I have made one similar for New Year’s Eve. I see you like grilled oysters, too…please check out my husband’s Grilled Prosciutto wrapped oysters, here on Food52, they are delicious. of the season to you and yours.
Amanda H. December 20, 2010
I did -- looks delicious!
Rhonda35 December 18, 2010
This chowder is so yummy; everyone must give it a try! One correction...the recipe was from Patrick Clark. If I remember correctly, he died shortly after the feature was in Food and Wine.
Amanda H. December 18, 2010
Thanks for the clarification -- fixed it!
mrslarkin December 17, 2010
Yum, this sounds so so good. It'd be great in the summer, too, with fresh corn-off-the-cob stirred in, and a drizzle of parsley oil. Oh, and some crusty dinner rolls. ;-)
Sally December 17, 2010
I like this! It would make a very good Christmas eve dinner by itself for those who pull out the stops on Christmas day. Our family (I should say, my husband's family) traditionally makes tamales for Christmas eve. They are far away, and since it is more of a community project, I was considering opting out with Trader Joe's frozen version (not really bad, actually.) But this seems much more festive and elegant. Thanks.
Amanda H. December 17, 2010
Thanks -- hope you enjoy it!
Sagegreen December 17, 2010
Lovely recipe. The crushed red pepper adds the perfect festive touch of color. We love the bay scallops. For fun sometimes we used to employ our collection of scallop shells as place cards, which was always a great task for the children.
Amanda H. December 17, 2010
Yes -- it gives the whole thing a little zip. Merrill used clam shells as placecards at her wedding.
lastnightsdinner December 17, 2010
That looks so inviting, rich and lush but not too heavy. Yum.
Amanda H. December 17, 2010
Exactly -- that's why it has stuck around in our family -- because it feels lavish but isn't too overwhelming.
Lizthechef December 17, 2010
Looks delicious and may replace the shrimp bisque I was planning for our Christmas Eve. No bay scallops here, but I could quarter sea scallops instead, yes?
Amanda H. December 17, 2010
Yes, and we've done that.