I have made Clam Chowder hundreds of times with varying degrees of success, ie, tasting they way I want it to…or, resembling some of the best chowders I’ve had over the years.
This is a great new recipe of mine that kind of gets back to the basics. Please note that I would have liked to do this new recipe using fresh clams, but good chowder clams are not readily available around here (Central California)…so, canned clams.
This version is also cut way down in volume. I did this to minimize the waste if I didn’t turn out…I have “sh*t-canned” many chowder recipes right after cooking. However…this one is a keeper! At least I think so.
The clams I used are whole Bumble Bee Baby Clams, they are much better than the little cans of minced clams. And, a bottle of Bumble Bee clam juice. I might try two bottles next time, but this does have a nice mild clams chowder, and the baby clams chopped, not minced. Keep in mind that canned clams are already cooked, so they need to be heated through. Cook them too long and they become rubbery. One new ingredient this time: Old Bay seasoning.
Here’s how I made it…
- 3 thick slices of bacon, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup sweet onions, diced
- 1/2 cup celery, diced
- 1 (8 ounce) bottle of clam juice
- 1 (10 ounce) can of whole baby clams
- 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
- 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
- 1 tsp chicken or clam base
- 1/4 cup dry sherry
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 fresh thyme sprig
- 1/4 tsp lemon pepper
- 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 1/4 tsp MSG (optional)
- 1 cup half and half
- 1/2 cup cream
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp cold water
- 1 – 1 1/2 cups of Russet potatoes (about 1 medium), peeled, 1/2 inch diced and cook al dente
- Place a medium saucepan over medium low heat and add the chopped bacon. Cook the bacon until it is rendered and slightly crispy. Remove bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- To the saucepan with the bacon fat, add the onions and the celery and saute for 5-6 minutes until just softened, do not brown. Add 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp white pepper.
- Turn up the heat to medium and add the sherry. Let it come to a simmer for about 2 minutes. Add the clam juice and the juice from the baby clams. Do not add the clams yet. Add the chicken base, garlic powder, Old Bay, bay leaf, and 1/4 tsp lemon pepper. Cover and allow to simmer for about 8 minutes.
- Cook the diced potatoes in salted water for about 8 minutes until just barely tender. Drain and place in a bowl in the refrigerator to cool so they don’t get mushy.
- Add the half and half to the chowder and bring to a low simmer.
- Place 2 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of flour in a small saucepan and cook for about 1 minute to make a roux.
- When the chowder is simmering, stir in the roux and allow to simmer, stirring, for about 3-4 minutes to thicken slightly. Add the cream and the baby clams. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- To make it thicker, make the roux with more butter and flour, or, make a slurry with the cornstarch and cold water. Add to the simmering chowder.
- When ready to serve, remove the bay leaf and thyme sprig, add the cooked potatoes and 2/3 of the reserved cooked bacon to the chowder and heat through.
- Serve with oyster cracker, more chopped bacon and chopped chives if desired.