Nettle Clam Chowder
Serves 6 to 8 5 pounds butter or Littleneck clams 1 cup water or white wine 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 large onion, diced 1 large leek, diced 2 stalks celery, diced 1 carrot, diced 1 large bunch fresh, young nettles* 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme 2 dried bay leaves 1 pounds potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice 1 1/2 cups milk or heavy cream Salt and pepper to taste *Always wear thick rubber gloves when harvesting and handling uncooked nettles. Carefully harvest nettles (see note). Wash nettles well and sauté in olive oil until thoroughly wilted like spinach. The nettles are now safe to touch with bare hands and taste! Remove from pan, cool, roughly chop, and set aside. Rinse clams well under fresh water and discard any clams that are cracked or open. Put clams in a large pot, add 1 cup water or wine, cover, and cook over med-high heat, stirring often. As individual clams open, remove them to a bowl and continue to cook until all or most clams have opened. It is very easy to overcook clams-remove them promptly. Reserve clam liquor, strain through cheesecloth or coffee filter and set aside. As soon as clams are cool enough to handle, remove all clam meat and roughly chop. In a heavy bottomed soup pot sauté onion and leeks until wilted. Add celery and carrot and sweat for 3 minutes. Add herbs, potatoes, milk or cream, reserved clam liquid, and turn heat to low. Bring chowder to a very gentle simmer and cook, stirring often to prevent sticking, until potatoes are just tender. Stir in chopped clams and nettles to heat through and taste for salt and pepper.