1/4 Cup Olive Oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large onion, small to medium dice
1 bulb fennel, small to medium dice
4 carrots, small to medium dice
1/2 head celery, small to medium dice
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 TBS smoked paprika
2 TBS Vadouvan (French curry), Madras curry may be substituted
1/4 LB butter, unsalted
1/4 LB all-purpose flour
1 bottle white wine or dry vermouth
1 quart clam juice (look for bottled product, low sodium)
4 cups frozen clams (whole), rough chop
4-6 large Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
1 quart heavy cream
1 TBS fresh parsley, chopped
1 TBS fresh tarragon, chopped
1 TBS fresh chives, chopped
2-3 LB mixed seasonal seafood (total), cut in large cubes
Set a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Heat olive oil in the pot and add to that garlic, onion, fennel, carrot and celery. Season with salt and pepper and saute vegetables until they are soft, about 7 minutes. (If they begin to brown, reduce flame.)
Once vegetables begin to soften, melt the butter in same pot. Toast the spices in butter and then add flour to begin your roux. Allow flour and butter to cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently to avoid sticking.
Add wine or vermouth, allow to boil until it has reduced by half. (Approximately 10 minutes.)
Once the liquid has reduced, add the clam juice as well as the chopped clams and diced potatoes. Return to a boil. Add the heavy cream and return to a boil once more. At this point, your stew should have reduced to roughly 2 1/2 to 3 quarts of cooking liquid. Water may be added if it needs thinning (potatoes will break down and add body to the broth). When potatoes are tender, remove pot from heat and reserve while seafood is prepared.
In a separate pan heat olive oil, add chopped fish pieces and saute in oil. When fish is ready to flip, turn pieces and begin ladeling chowder base into the pan to deglaze. (At this point any shellfish you're using may be added to the pot.) Return cooked seafood and chowder to your large cooking pot. Bring up to temperature and cover. When mussels pop open, your stew is done. Taste for seasoning, adjust as neccessary.
Ladel into bowls and finish each with fresh herbs and a pad of butter. Serve.