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!
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).