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October 13, 2013

Maine Mussel Chowder with Colorful Vegetables

While many Maine chowders look alike, this gorgeous brew has eye appeal to add to its gustatory delight. Age this one for at least a day for best results!

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image by Scott Dorrance

Mussel Chowder with Colorful Vegetables
Brooke Dojny, Dishing Up Maine

2 cups water
1 cup bottled clam juice
4 pounds Maine mussels, scrubbed and debearded
6 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons olive oil
4 cups peeled, diced all-purpose potatoes (about 1½ pounds)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
2 leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced (white and pale green parts only)
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 large shallot, chopped
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups heavy cream

Bring the water and clam juice to a boil in a large pot. Add the mussels, return to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, covered, until the shells open, about 4-6 minutes depending on size. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to a bowl, discarding any that do not open. Set aside 16 mussels in their shells and shuck the rest. Pour the mussel broth into a large glass measure and set aside to allow any sediment to settle.

Heat the butter and oil in a large soup pot. Add the potatoes, salt, and pepper, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, leeks, bell pepper, and shallot, and cook, covered, over low heat until all the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the wine, raise the heat to high, and cook briskly until reduced by about one-third, about 3 minutes.

Add the reserved mussel broth, leaving any sediment behind, and add the cream and the shucked mussels. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes to blend flavors.

Add the reserved mussels in their shells. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. (The chowder is best when allowed to age for at least 4 hours, or overnight.)

Reheat gently. Ladle into bowls, making sure that each serving contains at least 2 mussels intheir shells, and serve.

Yields about 2 quarts (6 main-course servings).

Brooke Dojny is the author of several cookbooks including Dishing Up Maine.

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