Cockle chowder

With the longer, sunnier days and having the time for a stroll on the beach with the whanau I noticed that the cockles were looking plump and juicy. 

After a little digging in the sand I came home with enough fresh cockles to make a large pot of chowder for dinner.

For the cockles

2kg fresh cockles/clams

½ onion, sliced

1 stick celery

Bay leaf

½ cup white wine


2 large potatoes (500g), diced

50g butter

1 onion, finely diced

2 sticks celery, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp fresh thyme, stems removed, finely chopped

3 Tbsp flour

1 ½ cups clam juice

1 ½ cups milk

1 cup cream

2 Tbsp fresh organic parsley, chopped

1 Tbsp fresh organic dill, stems removed, finely chopped

Ground white pepper and salt to taste

½ lemon, juiced


Begin by cooking the cockles. In a large pot add the cleaned cockles, onion, celery, bay leaf and white wine and half a cup of water.

Cook over high heat with the lid firmly on. Cook the cockles until they start to open (5-8 minutes), give the pot a shake to move the cockles around. Turn off the heat and continue to steam. If the cockles have opened then remove the lid, if not keep the lid on until the cockles have opened. If some cockles remain closed, discard!

Drain the cockles and all the liquid through a fine sieve over a bowl. Keep the cockle liquid.

When cool enough to handle, remove the cockle meat and set aside. Discard the shells and veggies.

Half fill a medium sized saucepan with water and a little salt and bring to the boil.

Add the diced potatoes and cook until just tender. Drain and cool. Set aside.

Add butter, onions, celery, thyme and garlic, and saute until tender (5mins). Make roux by adding flour. Stir well to incorporate.

Continue stirring and cook over a low heat for about 5-7 minutes. Do not brown the roux.

Gradually add the clam liquid, stirring constantly so you get no lumps.

Add the milk and cream, then the parsley and dill. Heat until almost boiling, stirring constantly to prevent lumps.

Add the cooked potatoes and cockles. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the pepper and taste whether you need salt. Quite often the cockle liquid can be quite strong. If too thick add a little more milk or water. Squeeze in the lemon juice and stir through.

This will keep for a maximum of 2 days.

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