So last week I posted Philly Cheesesteak Sliders (before I knew how badly our Vikings were going to be trounced!) This week, I thought what the heck. New England Clam Chowder was in order. For the Superbowl, eh? You betcha.
Everyone seems to have a preference about chowders. Some like them thinner and some thicker, but there’s no denying over the years that we’ve gotten more sophisticated and so have our expectations. We’re looking for great flavor, mouthfeel, and appearance.
I think this chowder will fit the bill for you no matter how you like yours. I used the same method with the roux (the flour & butter mixture that thickens the chowder) as I did with my Wild Rice Soup. I mixed up the roux as the potatoes simmered away and then put the two together.
What that does is gives the chowder a gorgeous, silky texture that doesn’t separate. From there, you can add more liquid or not, depending on how thick you’d like your chowder! Just use a little more cream, milk, stock or clam broth, whatever floats your boat.
As far as cost, you’ll probably never find cream for less than at Aldi, and it is almost always less expensive to mix cream with milk to make your own half and half. I didn’t think to check for canned clams there and picked mine up at the grocers along with clam juice. Any clam will work, fresh, frozen or canned. Just be sure not to overcook and put them in at the very end.
New England Clam Chowder
Note: 1/2 and 1/2 is just half cream and half milk. Mixing your own allows you a little more flexibility in the consistency.
- 1/2 pound bacon strips, diced
- 2 ribs celery, finely diced
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 3-4 small potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice
- 2 cusp water or broth (either chicken or vegetable)
- 1 bottle (8 ounces) clam juice
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup purpose flour
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 2 cans (6-1/2 ounces each) of whole clams, chopped into chunky pieces, drained, or an equivalent amount of frozen. See note for fresh.
- additional milk, 1/2 & 1/2 or broth to thin to desired consistency
- Chopped fresh chives or green onions, for garnish
- oyster crackers for serving
Add bacon to cold Dutch oven and turn the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring until nearly crispy. Remove bacon to a plate and reserve, leaving the drippings behind in the pot.
Add the celery and onion to the drippings and cook for several minutes, using a spatula to rub up and residue on the bottom of the pan left behind from the bacon.
Add potatoes, water or broth, and clam juice, along with the white pepper, salt, and thyme to the Dutch oven. Cover and cook at a simmer for about 15 minutes, or just until the potatoes are tender.
In the meantime, melt butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Add flour and stir until thickened. Cook, whisking, until the mixture begins to look dry but not so long it takes on any color. Turn the heat down just a little and add the half and half, a little at a time, whisking vigorously until smooth. Cook, whisking, until thickened so that when a finger is run across the back of a spoon dipped in the mixture, it leaves a distinct line.
When the potatoes are tender, turn heat down to a bare simmer and add the roux a little at a time to the Dutch oven, whisking after each addition. The easiest way to do this is to pick up the roux in the tines of the whisk. Do not boil the chowder again at this point.
Add the clams and half the bacon to just heat through, a minute or two. Add additional milk, 1/2 & 1/2 or broth to thin to desired consistency. Garnish, if desired, with parsley, chives and/or green onion along with reserved bacon. Serve with oyster crackers.
If there is any leftover, chowder will thicken in the refrigerator. Slowly reheat and then add a little more liquid if needed.
If you’d like to use fresh clams in your chowder, use 4 to 6 pounds fresh clams, your preferred variety, and use the broth from cooking instead of the bottled clam juice and the chicken or vegetable broth.
- Bring clams and 4 cups water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Cook until clams open, 8-10 minutes, and discard any that don’t open. Strain clams from broth, reserving broth. Let clams cool slightly, then pull meat from shells and dice.
- Measure 3 cups of the broth and use instead of the bottled broth and stock. Reserve any remaining stock in case the chowder needs to be thinned.
I’ll be linking up this week at Fiesta Friday 208. Be sure to stop by and see all the posts. 🙂