Southwest Clam Chowder with Corn and Bacon

I have a library cookbook problem. I’ve read over 300 in the last two years, and I’m absolutely guilty of picking them based solely on their covers. That’s how I ended up with a copy of The Red Truck Bakery Farmhouse Cookbook. I didn’t – and still don’t – know much about the Red Truck Bakery, but author Brian Noyes’ recipe for corn chowder sounded SO good! As he says in his recipe blurb:

“Man, I love this chowder! This is how it’s supposed to be made: thick and full of corn, bacon, butter, cream – no skimping, no “healthier” substitutions.”

So I didn’t. I scraped in every tablespoon of butter, tossed in every strip of bacon, and poured in every drop of heavy cream. The result was the best thing to come out of my kitchen in months!

As we were enjoying our respective second helpings, my husband and I shared the same idea: this needs clams. Call it our coastal upbringings, surrounded by many variations of clam chowder, but we both knew intuitively Noyes’ base would make an excellent southwestern clam chowder.

So I added simple canned clams, and the resulting Southwestern Clam Chowder with Corn and Bacon has been added to our regular rotation. It’s SO good!

Southwest Clam Chowder with Corn and Bacon
(Original recipe: The Red Truck Bakery Farmhouse Cookbook)

8 slices bacon, chopped
3 TBSP butter
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 poblano or pasilla pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C masa harina
5 C chicken stock
1-1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into chunks
6 C corn, fresh or frozen
3 (6.5 oz) cans of clams, drained
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 C heavy cream
1 TBSP dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste

In a Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until browned, about 6 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving 1 TBSP of fat in the pot.

Add the butter. Once it has melted, stir in the onion and cook over medium heat until softened. Add the poblano/pasilla pepper and the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.

Slowly whisk in the masa harina, allowing it to coat all the veggies. Add in 1 cup of the chicken stock, 1/4 cup at a time, whisking to combine well after each addition. Allow this roux to thicken and turn golden brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining 4 cups of stock, whisking until well combined.

Add the potatoes and allow to heat to a low simmer, stirring frequently. Add the corn, paprika, salt, and pepper. Let it return to a low simmer. Stir, cover, and allow to cook for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes have softened.

Transfer 3-4 cups of the chowder to a blender and puree until smooth. Return the puree to the pot. Add the clams and cooked bacon, and stir until combined. Allow to simmer for 5 additional minutes, stirring as needed.

Stir in the heavy cream and basil. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve immediately.

This chowder can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

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