A Daily Dinner: Nantucket Scallop Chowder

Nantucket Bay Scallop Chowder

Fall announces its arrival as soon as I see Kabocha, acorn and butternut squash gracing the stands at the greenmarket, but the ocean also brings forth another late fall delicacy: the Nantucket bay scallop.

While we enjoy the large sea scallops year-round, Nantucket bay scallops have a short season, beginning on Nov. 1 and running until, well, there aren’t anymore. (Which is sometimes as early as the first week of December.)

Ingredients for Scallop Chowder

Many claim these tiny scallops to be the best in the world and I think Ryan and I are inclined to agree. Even raw, they have a clear, sweet taste that just hints of the sea. Not overwhelming, not fishy, just purely blissful.

They are best sautéed in just a bit of butter for a minute or two, but considering that it is Thanksgiving week, I wanted a little more involved preparation. This chowder fit the bill perfectly.

How to make scallop chowder for Thanksgiving

Nantucket Scallop Chowder
Adapted from Bon Appétit, Dec. 1995

4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
1 onions, chopped
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 c. bottled clam juice
1/4 c. dry white wine
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 c. whipping cream
1 tbsp. butter
1/2 lb. Nantucket or Peconic Bay scallops

1. Sauté bacon in heavy large saucepan over medium heat until crisp, about 6 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels and drain well.
2. Drain all but 2 tbsp. bacon fat from saucepan. Add onions and thyme to same saucepan and sauté over medium-high heat until onions are light golden, about 10 minutes.
3. Add clam juice, white wine and potatoes. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. If you like a thicker chowder, use a fork and lightly mash some of the potatoes.
4. Add cream and half of bacon and bring to simmer.
5. Melt 1 tbsp. butter in a small heavy skillet over high heat. Add scallops and sauté until light golden, about 2 minutes. Add scallops to chowder. Season chowder to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Ladle chowder into bowls. Sprinkle with paprika and remaining bacon.

An easy, seasonal seafood recipe with scallops and potatoes

The scallops in the chowder were like little treasures, as we found them nestled under nuggets of bacon or chunks of potato. Surprisingly though, these robust flavors didn’t at all overpower the scallops. They were still buttery and tender, just as they would have been if served on their own.

We didn’t let any of the scallops go to waste of course, but the leftover cold chowder with just potatoes and bacon made for a delightful breakfast.

I’m already planning to pick up some more of these beauties before the season’s over. Funnily enough, New York seemed to sense my undying devotion and featured them in their “In Season” column last week. I can’t wait to try this preparation with caramelized figs—another addiction of mine.

Ryan and I hope that you and yours have a very happy Thanksgiving! We’re so thankful to everyone who reads, comments, or otherwise enjoys reading our blog. We couldn’t do it without your support.

– Laura

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