Wednesday, June 3, 2009

New England Clam Chowder


Clam Chowder is one of those things that we associate with summer. It may not quite be summer yet, but we're ready. My husband grew up in the northeast and he and his family summered at the end of Long Island on Shelter Island. Nestled between Long Island’s two forks, Shelter Island is a tiny, sheltered spot that is still a popular get-away for busy New Yorkers. One of their favorite pastimes was to dig for clams and have big pots of steamers with plenty of melted butter for dinner. I, on the other hand, grew up in the landlocked deep south, but the first time I tasted clams I couldn’t get enough of them.

We no longer live near the seashore and about the only clams we see in our market in the mountains are in cans. Lately I’ve had a painful time chewing, so to make life easier for me and satisfy our craving for summer clams at the same time, we made a batch of New England Clam Chowder for dinner. Many restaurant chowders are thick and flour based, but we prefer the rich, creamy variety and therefore skipped the flour.

This recipe is adapted from The Beach House Cookbook by Barbara Scott-Goodman. Barbara used fresh clams and pureed her chowder in a blender or food processor until very smooth and creamy and served it cold. Although we didn’t blend our version and we served it hot, I agree with Barbara that it would be excellent brought to the beach in a chilled thermos for a picnic. In her recipe she uses a bay leaf for seasoning, which I skipped, and she saves the bacon for another use, using only the rendered fat. There is no “saving bacon” in our kitchen. If cooked bacon stays on the counter past the count of ten before anyone eats it, it’s rare. I have to hide it (from both of us) if I plan to use it later. Besides, we like bacon in our chowder. This serves 6 as a soup course or appetizer, or 2 – 3 generous servings as a main course.


New England Clam Chowder
Adapted from The Beach House Cookbook

2 slices bacon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 cup bottled clam juice
1 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
Dash of hot sauce, such as Tabasco
1 (10oz) can whole baby clams with juice
1 (6.5oz) can chopped or minced clams with juice
1 cup whole milk
1 cup half-and-half
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons dry sherry
½ cup chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
Pats of unsalted butter for garnish

Fry the bacon in a large soup pot until it’s cooked but not crispy. Drain bacon, chop and reserve (or hide if need be). Discard all but a tablespoon of the bacon fat. Add the butter to the bacon fat and melt over low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.

Add 1 cup of water, the clam juice, wine, thyme and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add the canned clams and their juices, the hot sauce, and the chopped bacon and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in milk, half-and-half, and salt and pepper to taste. Raise the heat to medium and, when the soup is just barely boiling, stir in the sherry and let it heat through. Add chopped parsley, stir, and serve hot. Add a pat of butter to each bowl for garnish if desired.

39 comments:

  1. Clam chowder is so good! I've never tried making it on my own though - thanks for the recipe!

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  2. It's been so long since I have had a good bowl of chowder. Your recipe looks delicious!

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  3. your recipe looks delicious! love those lil bowls in which you ahve served the chowder!

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  4. It sounds delicious... a bowl of it would be nice for appetizer :)

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  5. I am so craving a bowl of Clam Chowder now. The photo is gorgeous and I love how the recipe is so simple to prepare. I will have to bookmark this one.

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  6. This sounds great! Never thought about serving it cold -- but why not!

    Re bacon -- we have a saying: 'Everything's better with bacon!'

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  7. looks wonderful hope your jaw is feeling better soon you poor thing

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  8. We keep missing the Chowder Fest here, and this reminds me of how good it can be!

    Yours looks so inviting, and to let you know I had a choice...come here, or go to the post title I saw "Sex In A Pan", but being loyal, I came here first :)

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  9. Sam - greetings from New England! That chowder looks just fantastic, and just right -- creamy, thick, rich in clammy flavor. And thank you for making "real" clam chowder, and not that tomato-based Manhattan clam chowder!

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  10. Sam, this looks like a wonderful recipe. As for bacon, bacon makes everything taste better, so I understand not letting sit on the counter. I hope you are starting to have some relief. Hugs....Mary

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  11. I never thought of clam chowder as a summer dish, but now that I think of it, it would be celicious served cold. Shelter Island is a lovely spot - I'll have to seek out the chowder the next time I visit!

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  12. When we were camping in Maine we had the most delicious Clam Chowder at one of the local restaurant. It was so good. Now I can recreate at home. Looks really good.

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  13. I love a good clam chowder & yours is no exeption! Looking truly wonderful!

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  14. I absolutely adore clam chowder, Sam!! This sounds amazing...I've always wanted to go on a clam dig and go to a clam bake, etc...ah, Midwest.

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  15. I love clam chowder and this looks chowder- tastic...

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  16. Sam,
    This clam chowder sounds delicious. I can almost taste it. Thank you for posting such wonderful foods and great photos.

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  17. Yummy, yummy, yummy - I love clam chowder! And I can't imagine bacon lasting around here either. Even uncooked, it doesn't stay in the fridge past a day.

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  18. Delicious! We love clam chowder and my husband absolutely adores it! I actually have never made it for him at home, I really should, will bookmark this recipe! Thanks!

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  19. My husband would be thrilled with me if I made this for him! It is his favorite. Great recipe!

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  20. I love clam chowder. I always get lazy and buy it for the market. I just bookmarked your recipe; nothing can compare to homemade clam chowder. Yum

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  21. We have that problem with bacon staying around very long, too~this looks like a great recipe,thanks for making it!

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  22. I love clam chowder and yours looks so delicious, just perfect clam chowder. I made it once maybe 20 years ago, but your recipe will be worth trying this summer! Yay!

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  23. looks absolutely delicious! thanks for sharing

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  24. There's nothing like the perfect bowl of clam chowder - hard to beat!

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  25. Nothing better than clam chowder - I especially love it in a bread bowl. Your version looks delicious!

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  26. MMmmm..this sounds so good.

    Saving bacon?! Really, whoever heard of such a thing. I can barely hold on to bacon long enough to use it in it's intended recipe.

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  27. I love calm chowder! fabulously easy recipe. Espcecially with a tastesful bread.

    Thanks for your wonderful recipe:)

    And you can visit me if I can visit you!

    Welcome~~~
    http://foodcreate.com

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  28. What a perfect and quintessential summer dish. I love the idea of pureeing the soup. I bet it was divine.

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  29. Your clam chowder looks fabulous Sam. I hope your chewing problems ease up. I am going to try and make this next week.

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  30. Your chowder looks delicious! It's been too long since I've had a good clam chowder.

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  31. Clam chowder...love it! Great ingredients in it...dry white wine...must taste great. Nice picture.

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  32. I just found your blog and love it! I have to make this for my hubby, he loves clams!

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  33. Yumm! I was just in New England last weekend and I sure wish I had some of this!

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  34. I always want to try to make this clam CC, glad you post about it. Sounds scrumptious.

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  35. yum, this is my kid's favorite... :)

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  36. I love love love clam chowder and I'll bet you make a mean one! And personally, I would love to eat clam chowder all winter long, too.

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  37. I've made clam chowder a lot of different ways over the years -- with fresh clams large & small, with canned chopped and baby clams, with bacon and with salt pork. The very best clam chowder I've eaten is with salt pork, and I mostly prefer it with canned clams over fresh. I have a recipe posted on my blog which is a pretty old one and it's rated 10 out of 10.

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  38. I have not had clam chowder for years .... thank you for the recipe.

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  39. New England Clam Chowder is one of my favorites! Thanks for the recipe :)

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Sam