Delicious Clam Chowder

This past weekend we were both feeling a little sick and with it being so chilly outside we decided to just stay in and get cozy. This consisted of me sleeping the entire day after tutoring while Zachary made clam chowder. Not a bad day if I do say so. :) 
Living on the coast, we have fallen in love with seafood, especially clams. I'm sure I've mentioned it before but I could eat them, actually I do eat them, like popcorn. I've never got really creative with the seafood here before, though. For some reason it hasn't really occurred to me to search out new seafood recipes. I just stir fry those babies for 5 minutes and we have dinner. Easy, peasy. Thankfully Zachary decided to branch out Saturday and was set on making clam chowder. 
Zachary's signature kitchen style, dish towel over the shoulder.

I love it when he cooks. He moves so slowly, plays music, cleans the dishes as he goes, makes sure each step is completed perfectly before he moves on to the next. It's quite peaceful actually and such an act of service. I'm so thankful for him. He doesn't cook often but when he does I always know it's out of love. The first meal he ever cooked me was in University in my flat, on a hot plate, since we didn't have ovens. He talked it up for a few days. It turned out being a steak patty with cream of mushroom poured over it. :) Hehe. It was delicious but as I told him at the time, guy food! I remember my dad often made this for himself when I was growing up. Good thing I love guy food, though! I'm a Texas girl all the way and love meat. It was just too cute the way he talked it up so much. 
Several years of our marriage he had also talked up his famous pie crusts, learned from his great-grandmother and grandmothers.  I always gave him a hard time about it since I always heard about it but never got a chance to taste one. Fast forward this summer when he made a delicious pie, the crust of which I don't remember, but still he made one. To Christmas day when he made a crust for the quiche I made. Oh. My. Goodness. I'm craving that crust just typing about it! It was fantastic. And so, I will from this point forward, fully support him in his being a "pie crust genius" claims! 
If you're near the coast with an abundance of clams, or just like clams, here's Zachary's (a.k.a. Food NetWorks') famous clam chowder recipe from the weekend. 

4 pounds cherrystone clams, scrubbed  (Z used just regular fresh clams from our local grocery)
2 large red-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (Zachary used regular white potatoes)
1 slice lean center-cut bacon, chopped (He used ham instead)
1 medium onion, diced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup fat-free half-and-half (He just used regular lowfat milk)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 teaspoons unsalted butter, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Put the clams and 2 cups water in a pot. Cover, bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook until the clams open, 5 to 10 minutes (discard any that do not open); transfer the clams to a bowl. Pour the liquid into a large measuring cup. (You should have 3 cups liquid; add water if needed.) Wipe out the pot.

Pour the liquid back into the pot through a paper towel-lined sieve. Add the potatoes, cover and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Remove one-third of the potatoes. Continue to cook the remaining potatoes, covered, until soft, about 10 more minutes. Puree in batches in a blender until smooth. Return the soup to the pot.

Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and bay leaves and cook, stirring, about 3 more minutes. Add the bacon mixture and reserved potatoes to the soup. Cover and cook over low heat, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the clams from their shells and roughly chop. Stir the clam meat and half-and-half into the soup; remove from the heat, cover and set aside, 20 to 30 minutes.

Discard the bay leaves. Season the soup with salt and pepper and reheat. Serve topped with a slice of butter, parsley, chives and paprika.

Recipe from here.

Enjoy! It was delicious!
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