I am back, and in my fanciest Boston fishmonger shellfish digging outfit fully equipped with hipster sweater, denim apron and of course a beanie for my dome. Of course if I’m going to play the part I’ve gotta dress the part right? In the words of famous coach, Lout Holtz, “When you look good you feel good, and when you feel good you play good.” Not only was it fashionable it was also incredibly functional because outta nowhere winter has most recently smacked us here in Chicago as it’s gone from 75° to 35°. There is literally no fall, no spring, only summer or winter. However, I have heard it said by locals that there are 4 seasons here in Chicago: summer, winter, construction and traffic… Yeah NOT funny to the outsiders lemme tell you. So, as I was saying now that I’m nice and toasty on this cold day, it’s time to bust out a way oversized pot of New England Clam Chowder.
Truth be told I’ve been trying to go back through my website to redo some stanky hideously old pictures and recipes that are in some major need of updating. A lot of these recipes are 8 years believe it or not that carried over from my first site, fixmyrecipe.com back in 2009. That’s right, I’ve been showing this mug on camera for over 8 years now… Thanking God every day that I still get to do what I love. Ok enough with the blabbering, let’s get into this New England Clam Chowder Recipe.
Ok wait, one more… Name this movie! “New England Clam Chowder… Is that the white or the red? I never remember that… White? YES!!!” No, it’s not from Greatest Catch, it’s from Ace Ventura Pet Detective when Jim Carrey was trying to meet up with his buddy who set up shop in an underground room at a heavy metal club. I only tell you all of this because New England style clam chowder is white and the folks down south in Manhattan make the red chowder, just in case there were any hang ups. Both clam chowders are actually made pretty similarly except in the red there is no cream, and there is an addition of tomatoes. I think both are delicious but if I had to choose I’d go with the white because it’s soup so it’s hot and meant to eat in cooler weather, plus the cream makes it a bit heartier.
All clam chowders start with some bacon, so I went all in with 1 pound of super thick cut smoked bacon. I know it seems like a lot but I literally made 2 gallons of soup – sorry I’m Italian and it’s in our blood to try and feed the neighborhood in addition to our families. Cook the bacon until the lardons are crispy brown and the fat is rendered. You can also remove a ½ cup of the bacon fat just to be safe as well. From there you want to set the bacon aside and sweat your vegetables. It’s ok if the onions caramelize a bit here you really just want to make sure they are tender before adding in the flour.
It’s important to make a roux at this point in the clam chowder because this is what will thicken it up. Roux is equal parts weight fat and flour and doing this makes it hard to gauge because I really have no clue how much 1 pound of rendered bacon fat weighs, but after it was said it done it ate up 1 ¼ cups of flour. I’ve been doing this long enough that I know when a roux is good to go. If for some crazy reason your soup does not get thick when it comes to a boil make a slurry, which is corn starch and water mixed together, and mix into your soup. That is a total worst-case scenario, but wanted to provide it just in case because you never know. Once your roux is made, add in the cream sherry and then your stocks, clams and herbs. Bring this sucker to a boil to ensure it becomes nice and thick before adding the potatoes in and cream. Season it up and serve it up with some fresh seared and steamed clams for one tasty meal!! That’s all I got you guys, till next week!!
New England Clam Chowder Recipe with Fresh Steamed Clams
For the Chowder:
- 1 pound of sliced thick cut bacon
- 2 peeled and small diced yellow onions
- 4 finely minced cloves of garlic
- 1 bunch of medium diced celery
- 1 ¼ cups to 1 ½ cups of flour
- ½ cup of cream cherry
- 64 ounces each of clam and chicken stock
- 40 ounces of chopped clams in juice
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 pounds each medium diced red and russet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh thyme
- 2 cups of heavy cream
- Kosher salt white pepper, Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce to taste
For the Clams:
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 15 little-neck clams
- 1 cup of chardonnay wine
- 4 finely minced cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme
- 2 ounces of unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley
- Kosher salt and red pepper flakes to taste
In a very large pot over medium heat, render the bacon.
Once brown remove the bacon and about ½ cup of the bacon fat.
Add in the onions, garlic and celery and sweat for 5 to 6 minutes.
Stir in the flour until combined
Next pour in the sherry, clams, clam stock, chicken stock and bay leaves and bring to a boil or until thick.
Once thick, add in the potatoes, thyme, cream, ½ of the cooked bacon and seasonings and simmer over low heat for 25 to 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Keep warm.
Clams: Add oil the a medium size saute pan over high heat and add in the clams and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Flames may appear as there will be water leaking out from the clams into the oil – turn down the heat if this happens.
Add in the wine, garlic and thyme and cover and cook for 3 to 5 minutes on high heat or until the clams open.
Finish the clams with butter, parsley, salt and red pepper flakes.
Pour a bowl of chowder and garnish with cooked clams, fresh thyme leaves, chopped parsley, cooked bacon, oyster crackers and red pepper flakes.