Friday, October 21, 2016

New England Clam Chowder (about 6-7 servings)

New England clam chowder

I love to eat a good piping hot bowl of clam chowder especially on a cool and/or rainy day. I prefer my chowder to be more soupy and light with lots of clams instead of thick and heavy. I think the best tasting chowders are made using half and half and fresh clam broth to create a light broth. There is nothing better than to load up on fresh clams. Here I use Downeast steamer clams (from Maine) and cherrystone clams. The result is delicious!

New England Clam Chowder (about 6-7 servings)

Ingredients:

2.2 lbs Downeast steamer clams (about 1 cup of chopped clam meat)
About 1 1/2 lbs cherrystone clams (about 3/4 cup chopped clam meat)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil (use what you have) or butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
3 1/2 oz pancetta, diced
2 Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced (about 3 cups)
1 small stick celery heart, chopped (optional)
3 cups fresh clam broth (from Downeast steamer clams)
One container half and half (pint or 473 mL)
A handful of sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tsp fish sauce

Method:

1) Soak the clams for about 5-10 minutes, scrub them and let them drain.
2) Use a steamer basket and place the Downeast steamer clams inside. Use about 2 cups of cold water to steam the clams for about 3 minutes or until they open up. Remove the clams and reserve the broth for cooking. Remove and discard the loose rough skin on the clams.
3) Boil the cherrystone clams using about 2 cups of cold water. Once the clams opens up remove the clams and reserve the broth (for dipping the clams).
4) Dip the clams into the cherrystone clam broth (from step 3) to remove any bits of shells or grits.
5) Rough chop the clams and reserve.
6) In a large pot over medium high heat. Add oil or butter. Add onion and pancetta. Saute about 1-2 minutes or until the onion is soft.
7) Add potatoes and celery. Saute about 2-3 minutes.
8) Add the clam broth and clams. Once the liquid starts to boil turn the heat down to low. Cook for about 5 minutes. Remove and discard any foam that floats to the top.
9) Add half and half, thyme and season with fish sauce. Turn the heat up a little. Avoid letting the liquid boil. Once the contents have heated up turn off heat and serve.

*I grow the thyme in pots so I can use them when needed. You can remove the leaves and just use them in this chowder. I put some leaves in and some sprigs for a more rustic look. Be sure not to eat these sprigs though. 
*If you don't have access to fresh clams you may use canned clams and canned broth. The fresh clams are very sweet and I highly recommend them.
*The celery heart is more tender so I prefer to use that over the tougher outer ones.
*You can substitute bacon for the pancetta.
*I prefer the Idaho potatoes in this chowder since they are more starchy than some others. Besides they are grown right here in the United States!
*If you are in Idaho you may be interested in this museum: idahopotatomuseum.com 
*Below are a few Fall photos that I took this afternoon near my home in New Hampshire.

pumpkin patch (New Hampshire, 2016)
New Hampshire, 2016
New Hampshire, 2016
New Hampshire, 2016

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