National Clam Chowder Day is February 25th.
There’s also National New England Clam Chowder Day on January 21st, a recipe with a cream base. But there’s no Manhattan Clam Chowder Day, a chowder with a tomato base, or Rhode Island Clam Chowder Day, made with a clear broth.
For today, here’s a fun fusion food: Gnocchi Clam Chowder, combining the creamy clam chowder of New England with gnocchi pasta from Northern Italy (photos #1 and #2).
It’s a clever twist: Instead of the diced potatoes that are typical in chowder, this recipe substitutes potato gnocchi (NYUH-kee, photo #3) and a second ingredient that originated in Northern Italy:
Pancetta (pan-CHET-tuh, photo #4), a style of Italian bacon (here’s more about it.
This is a hearty, comforting, filling, chowder that can serve as a first course, or a main course with a green salad.
You can use packaged gnocchi or fresh gnocchi, which require less cooking time.
Instead of the oyster crackers traditionally served with clam chowder, consider this garlic bread recipe.
1. BRING a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi and cook according to the package instructions. Remember, gnocchi will float to the surface when finished cooking. Drain and set aside.
2. MELT the butter in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat renders and pancetta begins to brown, about 8 minutes.
3. ADD the celery, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add clam juice, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile…
4. WHISK the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl to form a slurry paste. Stir into the chowder base and bring to a boil to thicken.
5. DISCARD the bay leaf. Stir in he clams, cream and gnocchi, and simmer for 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
6. GARNISH with chives and serve. We had some fresh parsley, and snipped that in as well.