Monday, July 4, 2011
New England Clam Chowder
I rummaged about in the pantry and saw I had three cans of minced clams, had some heavy cream in the fridge that needed to be used, and knew what we'd be having for dinner.
This clam chowder is very good; it's not the best (if you've ever had fresh from the Atlantic Ocean clams made into chowder from Legal Seafoods in Boston, you'll know what I mean by best), but it's the best I've ever made at home. This chowder had a wonderful velvety mouth feel and the clam flavor came through nicely. Even Ole Sweetie-Pi, who rarely goes for a second helping on anything with milk in it, ate two servings, and put dibs on the leftovers.
There's controversy about bacon versus salt pork, and I use bacon. Rarely do I have salt pork in the house unless I'm making baked beans. If you have salt pork, but all means go ahead and use it; just render the fat as you would with the bacon. Some folks go so far as to finely dice the salt pork and sprinkle it on the chowder as a garnish, but I'm not one of them; I've got to have some limits, smiles, on the amount of fat I consume.
And take a look at the last ingredient at the ingredient list. Are you as surprised as I was? I hesitated using the sugar as it's not an ingredient I envision with clam chowder, so I opted to use just a good pinch, and the addition seemed to work just fine.
New England Clam Chowder
3 6.5-ounce cans minced or whole clams, reserve liquid **
3 slices bacon
4 cups diced potatoes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion
2 1/2 cups milk, divided
1 cup heavy cream (light cream will work too)
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
good pinch of sugar
Drain the clams, reserving the liquid. Add enough water to make 2 cups of liquid.
In a large saucepan, cook the bacon, rendering the fat. Remove the bacon and save the drippings. Add the diced potatoes and onions and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or so, or until the onions look translucent.
Add the clam juice, cover, and simmer about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.
Stir in the claims, 2 cups of milk and the cream.
In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of milk with the flour and stir well. Stir mixture into the chowder. Cook chowder until thick and bubbly.
Add Worcestershire sauce and a pinch of sugar. Stir, and taste for seasoning; add salt and pepper if desired.
Supposed to serve 4, (probably dainty eaters) but more likely 2 or 3 really hungry people.
**My notes: The original recipe called for 2 cans of clams, which isn't nearly enough. Even with three 6.5-ounce cans of clams, I felt as if I could have used another can, and then I probably wouldn't have had to add any water at all.
Four cups of potatoes, is that really enough? Depends how thick and chunky you like your clam chowder. Next time, I'll probably add another potato or two.
Same goes with the thickener. I've had chowder so thick you could stand your spoon up in it and at the other end of the spectrum, where it was just a milk broth. This chowder is a medium consistency, very good. If you like it thicker, add more flour and milk after you see how it cooks up.