Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Feb 21, 2012

New England Clam Chowder

Libations used: 1/2 cup white wine
Libations left over: pretty much the whole bottle, so serve with dinner or have a glass while the chowder simmers...
There's still a chill in the air by the beach, and I just love cooking up soups on Sunday nights to beat away the cold, nighttime ocean breezes.  The Film Independent Spirit Awards are coming up for me, so this week is going to be crazy, and the Lush Chef needed a hearty dish that could quickly be heated up for dinners at the office.  A few weeks ago, Gilt Taste had posted two clam chowder recipes—the tomato-based Manhattan version and the creamy New England kind.  The New England Chowder won my heart this week.  I made a trip to Santa Monica Seafood to pick up some Littleneck clams and their Ultimate Seafood Stock (just add 3 cups of water for each container and freeze any leftovers).  I have tons of bottles of La Crema chardonnay lying around, so I popped one of those open.  I'm not much of a chardonnay drinker, but I always have plenty of it around because it lends itself well to cooking.

New England Clam Chowder - serves 6-8
  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 sticks celery, diced
  • 2 Idaho potatoes, diced and unpeeled
  • 1 sweet potato, diced and unpeeled
  • 2 leeks, green part removed and diced
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I used a chardonnay)
  • 5 cups seafood stock (or vegetable)
  • 12 Littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • Fresh chopped parsley
  • 3-4 slices crisp, diced bacon
- In a large, heavy pot over medium-low heat, melt the butter.
- Add the onion, celery, potatoes, leeks, salt and pepper and cover the pot.
- Let it cook on low heat, covered, and stir every few minutes for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables start to soften around the edges and glisten.
- Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables.
- Stir and continue to cook on low heat for about 5 minutes.  A golden crust will start to build up on the bottom of the pot.
- Turn up the heat to medium-high and when you can hear the vegetables sizzling, pour all the wine in.
- Use a wooden spoon to deglaze the bottom of the pot by getting those caramelized, crusty bits off the bottom.
- When all the wine has nearly evaporated, add the seafood stock and thyme.
- Bring it up to a boil and let the chowder simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add the clams and cream to the chowder, cover the pot and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
- Garnish each bowl with the parsley and bacon, and serve with some crusty and toasted sourdough bread.