Clam Chowder with Root Vegetables and Thyme

Clam ChowderUnder the Boardwalk…Down By The Sea

When I was a kid we had family friends with a vacation home in Santa Cruz, so we would stay with them during the summer. It was great. We would wake up and hit the beach, then hit the Boardwalk and ride the roller coasters ‘till we puked. Of course it’s possible that the roller coasters were not to blame. It’s possible that it could have been the amount of food (and sugar) that we ate.

There are an amazing number of dining opportunities at the boardwalk. From fried chicken to deep fried Twinkies—you can pretty much get whatever heat attack on stick or sugar bomb you desire. For me, I always liked the old time candy shops like Marini’s. salt water taffy, caramel apples and fudge. Those were my favorite food groups. Corn dogs are another good choice…and bowls of clam chowder on cooler nights.

My family is headed down to the boardwalk this weekend for, you guessed it, more baseball. There is no way we would go to Santa Cruz and not go to the boardwalk. What kind of parent would I be, after all, if I didn’t introduce my kids to the wonders of chocolate dipped bacon and the Giant Dipper? It’s going to be a good time out…

One thing we will be avoiding? The water. Maybe because this week was Shark Week on Discovery Channel. or maybe because of the recent beach closures due to Great White shark activity near Capitola, you will not find this chick frolicking in the surf. Thank you, no. I’ll hang back on the beach with my bacon. Mega Shark can get his own.

Clam Chowder with Root Vegetables and Thyme
Adapted from Taste Food Blog
Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 slices bacon, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 large leek, white part only, thinly sliced
2 large black radishes or 1 medium white turnip, peeled, cut in 1/2-inch dice
1/2 small celery root, peeled, cut in 1/2-inch dice
1/2 pound small fingerling potatoes, cut in 1/4-inch coins
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme
12 manila or middle neck clams or 24 little neck clams
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and fry until the fat is nearly rendered. Add the chopped onion and leek, and sauté until softened, for about 2 minutes.

Add the turnip, celery root and potatoes. Sauté until the vegetables soften, for about 3 minutes. Add the milk, cream, chicken stock, bay leaf and thyme. Bring everything a boil. Add clams.

Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until clams open, stirring occasionally, for about 8 to 10 minutes. Discard any unopened clam shells. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garnish with thyme sprigs, and serve hot.

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