This recipe makes a wonderful chowder. Most of the time at the restaurant, I use it over our house-made French fries but it's really quite versatile. Certainly you can cook your own, but even fries out of the oven make the perfect host. As a base for a piece of seared fish, a soup, or, if thickened a little more, a great dip for chips.... think spinach and seafood dip hot out of the oven.
For the stock: Sweat the coriander, fennel seeds, peppercorns, garlic and shallots in the butter in a heavy-bottomed pot (this will help control the heat so you don't burn the ingredients). When the shallots are translucent, add the clams, white wine, thyme and bay leaves. Cover the pot to steam the clams, and as they begin to open, add the mussels. Gently simmer, covered, until the mussels and remaining clams open, about 3 minutes.
When all the shells are open, strain off the liquid and reserve, setting aside the shellfish to cool slightly until you can handle them. Shuck the meat out of all the shells, refrigerate and reserve for the sauce. Discard the vegetables and herbs.
For the sauce: Cook the bacon in the same pot over medium heat to render the fat. This will help to make the roux later. When the bacon begins to brown, add 3 tablespoons of the butter, the garlic and shallots. Continue to sweat over medium heat until the shallots are translucent. Add the white wine and reduce until it's almost dry (au sec). Add the reserved shellfish stock and reduce by half. Remove from the heat and set aside on the stove.
Melt the remaining 1 stick butter in a separate small pot or deep saute pan to its bubbling point and stir in the flour very well with a wooden spoon, incorporating it while removing clumps. Cook 3 to 5 minutes over medium heat while stirring regularly. Add the roux to the bacon pan, and place over medium heat. Add the cold milk to the hot roux while stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. You will have to monitor it carefully and stir frequently so the flour doesn't stick to the bottom (if it does, don't panic! You can remove the sauce, clean the bottom of the pot and put it back in... phew!) Simmer 10 minutes, then add the carrots, celery and fennel, and continue cooking until the raw flour taste has been cooked out and the vegetables are tender (they will add texture to the finished chowder), 10 minutes longer.
Add the reserved mussels and clams. I use trim from the other fish I cook every day. Simmer 1 minute to heat through and add the parsley. Season with salt, garnish with the chives and serve immediately. Enjoy!
This recipe was provided by a chef, restaurant or culinary professional. It has not been tested for home use.