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Cockle Chowder

Great recipe from Hugh's Fish Fight on LifeStyle Channel.


  • 1 tablespoon rapeseed or olive oil

  • 2 knobs of butter

  • 150g smoked bacon or pancetta, cut into small cubes or lardons

  • 1 large leek, white part only, quartered lengthways and thinly sliced

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 1 large, waxy potato, such as Cara, peeled and cut into 5mm cubes

  • 750ml fish or shellfish stock

  • 1kg cockles (purged of grit, if necessary, by being immersed in a bucket of clean salt water for several hours, with the occasional stir)

  • A glass of white wine

  • 50ml double cream

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 1.

    Heat a heavy-based pan over a medium heat and add the oil and a knob of butter. When the butter is foaming, add the bacon and sauté until it starts to release some of its fat.

  • 2.

    Add the leek, onion and garlic, then cover and sweat gently for around 5 minutes, without letting the vegetables colour.

  • 3.

    Add the potato and sweat for 5 minutes more, then pour in the stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook, covered, for about 10 minutes, until the potato is soft but not disintegrating.

  • 4.

    Meanwhile, scrub the cockles under cold water, discarding any that are damaged or open.

  • 5.

    Put a large, wide pan over a high heat and add the wine, a glass of water and a knob of butter. Bring to the boil.

  • 6.

    Add the cockles to the boiling, winey liquid. Cover at once with the lid, stir after a minute or so and cover again. Cook for 2-4 minutes, until the cockles are open (discard any that remain firmly closed).

  • 7.

    Tip the contents of the pan into a colander, set over a bowl to catch the juices. Set aside a few cockles and pick the remainder from their shells.

  • 8.

    Strain the cockle juices through a fine sieve, or a coarse sieve lined with a cotton cloth, and add to the chowder, along with the shelled cockles.

  • 9.

    Stir in the cream, season to taste and reheat gently if necessary. Serve piping hot, garnished with the shell-on cockles and accompanied by some bread.

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