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Smoked Clam Chowder

When it comes to matching foods with places clam chowder and New England are inseparable. For the purpose of this recipe, we will change it up with a Memphis twist. Before adding the clams to the soup, place them in the Memphis for a short smoke. We are confident the smoky flavor will score big points with the fans.
Preparation
1. If you are using fresh clams, scrub each clam under running water using a small brush to remove debris and sand. Dissolve 1/3 C of non-iodized salt in 1 gallon of cold (distilled) water. Place the clams in a stainless steel bowl and cover with the saline mixture. Soak the clams for I hour. This will help the clams to purge any bits of sand. Commercially grown cultured clams will have less sand inside than wildly harvested clams. Alternatively, you can simply use canned clams on a busy day!

2. Pre-heat the Memphis Wood Pellet Grill to 225 F. We like to use apple pellets for smoking clams.

3. Place the shucked (or canned) clams, in a single layer on a fine mesh vegetable rack and put this rack on the lower level of the pre-heated Memphis. Smoke the clam meat for 30 minutes. When the clams have cooled enough to handle chop them into smaller chunks if necessary.

4. Cut bacon into 1” squares and fry the small slices in a heavy bottomed stock pot over medium-high heat until crispy.

5. Stir in the onions, celery, and carrots and sauté until the vegetables begin to soften and the onion becomes semi-translucent. Add the thyme.

6. Whisk in the flour, lower the heat to medium and cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the bay leaf to the pot.

7. Whisk in the clam juice in a slow and steady stream, followed by the stock. Bring the liquid up to a boil then reduce the heat so the liquid is just simmering. Continue to simmer the mixture until the potato cubes are cooked all the way through.

8. Add the cream and milk. Bring the soup back up to the simmering point. Add the smoked clam chunks and simmer for 2 or 3 more minutes. Remove the bay leaf and correct the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Ladle into shallow bowls and serve.

Ingredients
3 lb little neck clams, cleaned and shucked (or 1 large tin)
½ lb naturally smoked bacon, thick slices (no maple flavoring)
1 ½ C yellow onions, small dice
½ C celery, small dice
½ C carrot, peeled – small dice
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1/3 C flour
4 C peeled & cubed & red potatoes, medium dice
2 C clam juice
2 C chicken or vegetable stock
1 C heavy cream
1 C milk
Salt and pepper to taste
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