CLAM AND CORN CHOWDER

CLAM AND CORN CHOWDER

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup diced slab bacon (optional)
1/4 cup peeled and diced carrot (2-3 medium)
1/4 cup diced onion (about 1 small)
1/4 cup diced celery (2-3 medium stalks)
24 littleneck clams, scrubbed
10 new potatoes, left in skin, cooked and cut in small dice
1 recipe corn stock, below
1/4-1/2 cup light or heavy cream
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon roughly chopped fresh thyme, for garnish
1 tablespoon roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

CORN STOCK INGREDIENTS:
1/2 leek, well washed and cut on the bias
2 celery stalks, cut on the bias
8 corn cobs, with corn kernels removed and reserved for the chowder
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 large bunch thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 ham hock (optional)
6 clams, scrubbed and debearded (optional)
8 cups chicken broth or water, or to cover

Serves 6

Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat and when it is hot, add the butter. Add the bacon, if desired, and the carrot, onion, and celery and cook until soft and transparent, about 7 minutes.
Raise the heat to high, add the clams, potatoes, reserved corn stock and the reserved corn kernels and bring to a boil. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the clams have opened, about 5 minutes.
Add the cream and season with salt to taste.
To plate: Divide the chowder among 6 shallow bowls, garnish with the thyme and parsley and serve immediately.

Corn Stock
In a large stockpot, place the leek, celery, corn cobs, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns and, if desired, the ham hock and clams. Cover with the chicken broth or cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to low and simmer uncovered, for 2 hours.
Strain and discard the solids. (This should yield about 6 cups.) Set aside.