It's surf-and-turf's highest calling: a luxe bowl of silky-spicy clam chowder "garnished" with big smoked marrow bone. And even though Argentinian-inspired Ox is centered on beef and the giant wood-fired grill used to cook it, the clam chowder has become the menu's must-order star — an inventive take on an old classic, and a dish so in-demand, it's destined to become a classic itself.
Chef/owners Greg Denton and Gabi Quinóñez-Denton say, "We probably sell over a 100 bowls a week (which is kind of a lot for a 60 seat restaurant)."
To make it, Denton starts by sauteing bacon in a generous knob of butter. Then he adds garlic and a traditional mirepoix of diced onion, celery and carrot. Next comes a little red pepper flakes and white wine for deglazing.
Before the base even comes together, the halved marrow bones get their turn. Forget simply roasting. Denton smokes the bones for about an hour to add even more flavor to the soup.
To finish the dish, he adds cream and milk to the broth, plus sambal oelek chile paste and diced potatoes. Then the manila clams go in, opening up and adding their briny sea flavor.
The smoked marrow bones get their own garnish: a sprinkle of fleur de sel, toasted bread crumbs, and thin slices of jalapeño. Once Denton ladles the chowder into the bowls, he nestles in the bones and sprinkles the dish with chopped fresh parsley and scallions.
All in all, it's a pretty straightforward dish. No crazy gastro-molecular pyrotechnics — until the flavors explode like fireworks in your mouth.