Using soft-shell, or "steamer", clams instead of large quahogs may be time-consuming, but the effort is worth it. The results are as good or better!
Serves: 4-6
Prep.Time: 1 hour

4 dozen soft-shell clams, or "steamers", scrubbed clean
1/4 pound salt pork, finely diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/2" dice
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
1 bay leaf
1 whole clove
2 cups boiling water
4 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

In a large soup pot or kettle, combine clams and 1 cup water; bring to a boil over high heat. Cover; reduce heat to medium and steam until clams open, about 10 minutes. Discard any clams that have not opened. When clams are cool enough to handle, working over the pot to catch all the juices, remove clams from shells and coarsely chop. Set aside. Strain cooking liquid through a fine sieve lined with a double layer of dampened cheesecloth set over a bowl. Set aside. In a large heavy kettle (or the same pot), cook salt pork over medium-high heast, stirring often, until fat is partially rendered, about 2 minutes. Add onion and celery; cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add potaotes, sage, bay leaf, clove, and boiling water; cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf and clove. Stir in reserved chopped clams, clam juice, and milk; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Transfer mixture to a tureen; float butter on top of mixture, season with salt and pepper, and garnish with parsley. Serve hot with saltines or oyster crackers.

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Copyright 2002 Carol Stevens, Shaboom's Kitchen, All Rights Reserved