Sorry Manhattan, there is but one clam chowder in our books and it hails from New England. Rich and creamy and always studded with bacon, we don’t feel guilty slurping every last drop. In dip form, this quintessential recipe is a cinch to pull together, and grilling both the clams (until they just open) and bacon will make for one very happy grill. As the bacon cooks on the grill, drops of fat will permeate under the hood and make all your neighbors jealous, so don’t skip that step. Best chilled, this dip can easily be made a day ahead of time.
- 2 pounds fresh clams, in their shells, scrubbed very well
- 4 slices bacon
- 3 cups sour cream
- 1/4 cup bottled clam juice
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- pinch of cayenne (optional)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- fresh herbs, to garnish (chervil, chives, parsley and/or tarragon)
- Build a fire with a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill over medium-high heat.
- Lay the clams on the hottest part of the grill, cover and cook until the clams open completely. Discard any clams that do not open.
- Meanwhile, lay the strips of bacon on the grill and cook until golden brown and crispy, flipping as needed and moving to a cooler part of the grill if browning too quickly.
- Once cool enough to handle, remove the clams from their shell (saving any liquid).
- After the bacon is cooked, cool slightly then coarsely chop.
- In a food processor, add the sour cream, clam juice, heavy cream, cayenne if using, a pinch each of salt and pepper, all but 3-4 of the clams (chop the remaining) and all but 2 tablespoons of the chopped bacon.
- Puree until mostly smooth, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. If too thin, add some of the reserved clam liquid.
- To serve, spoon the dip into a serving bowl and fold in the reserved clams and chopped bacon.
- Garnish with herbs and serve with grilled potato wedges, celery sticks and/or oyster crackers. Can be made ahead, wrapped in a bowl, for up to two days.
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