Manhattan has its clam chowder and so does New England – this is neither of those. We named ours after Tribeca, where it was created. This chowder was born in the Next Iron Chef Finale, the theme of which was Thanksgiving. Olde Salt clams, native to Virginia, are grown off the shores of the beautiful Chincoteague Island. The clams are very briny and salty, marking them perfect for chowder where their qualities don't disappear but, instead, shine.
2 to 2 1/4 pounds sweet potatoes (about 3 to 4), peeled
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup clam juice
5 pounds littleneck clams, preferably Olde Salt or another briny variety, cleaned
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups diced bacon (about 6 slices)
1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 celery stalks, cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 fresh or 1 dried bay leaves
1 pound mussels
2 tablespoons chopped fresh curly parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Lime wedges, for serving
Thinly slice 1 sweet potato, cut the remaining potatoes into 1/4-inch dice, and set aside. In a large pot, combine wine, clam juice, and 1/2 cup water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add clams, cover, and cook until they open, about 10 minutes. Transfer clams to a bowl, discarding any that didn’t open. Strain broth through a fine-mesh strainer and set aside. When clams are cool to handle, remove clam meat from shells and set aside.
Place cream and sliced potato into 4-quart pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cook until potato is tender, 15 minutes. Transfer potatoes and cream to a blender, purée until smooth, and pass through strainer into a bowl. Set aside.
In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, melt butter, add bacon and cook until crispy. Add onion, garlic, celery, thyme, and bay leaves. Cook until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add diced potatoes, clam broth, and potato purée. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard thyme and bay leaves.
Add mussels and cook until they open, about 5 minutes. Return clam meat to pot, and stir in parsley and mint. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with lime wedges.
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