Danger Kitchen
Danger Kitchen

New England Clam Chowder


It can be more than paste and water with a clam dunked in it.


Ingredients:

1 pound of shucked clams (20-30 in the shell).
2 quarts clam juice from steaming them open.
1/4 pound salt pork chopped fine.
2 medium onions finely chopped.
6 stalks celery with leaves halved lengthwise and chopped.
4 medium baking potatoes in 1/4 inch or so cubes.
1 12-16 oz package frozen corn or 4-5 ears fresh ("OBR" optional but recommended).
1/2 bunch fresh parsley chopped fine.
2 bay leaves.
1-2 TBSP fresh thyme finely minced.
Fresh ground black pepper.
1/2 pint Heavy Cream.
1 quart half and half.
1 stick of butter.


Protocol:

1) Preheat heavy bottomed stock pot.
2) Skin the salt pork and chop finely.
3) Add the salt pork to the pot and stir constantly for two to three minutes to fry evenly.
4) Turn the heat way down and cover the pot while you're locating and prepping the other ingredients.
5) Peel and chop the onions and add to the pot after the salt pork has browned and rendered most of its fat.
6) Turn the heat up and stir the onions frequently while getting the celery ready.
7) Slice the celery in half lengthwise and chop. Add to the pot when the onions are translucent and stir.
8) Cover the pot and get the clams ready.
9) Slice the whole clams in thin slices and then chop finely. Random chunks are OK.
10) Add the clams to the pot and pour in the broth.
11) Cover the pot, turn up the heat, and get the potatoes ready.
12) Wash the potatoes and peel if you like although skin-on is fine.
13) Cube them into uniform sized cubes as much as possible.
14) Add the potatoes to the pot with the corn if desired.
15) Add the herbs (except parsley) and lots of fresh ground black pepper.
16) Cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes or so until the potatoes are barely tender.
17) Add the parsley and simmer for ten more minutes.
18) At this point you can decide how you want to proceed. If you're likely to serve most or all of the chowder immediately or in the next day or two, add the dairy. If not set aside the portion of the chowder base to cool and freeze and use a corresponding percentage less of the dairy products.
19) Turn the heat off and let the chowder base cool for a few minutes.
20) Stir in the heavy cream and half and half slowly.
21) Drop the butter on top and heat gently until just barely starting to simmer.
22) Stir the butter in just before serving.
23) Sprinkle servings with fresh ground black pepper "FGBP" and/or fresh chopped chives or parsley or scallions (optional).
24) Serve with oyster crackers or bread.
25) If you're using thawed frozen chowder base you thaw it and bring it to a simmer and pick up at step 20. It freezes better without the dairy or you can use the base to proceed to Manhattan Chowder.


Optional:

Just in case this isn't good enough as it is... Try adding chopped crisp fried bacon to the pot or bowl just before serving. Use whole baby corn for a change or try adding chopped asparagus, Brussels sprouts or artichoke hearts after the corn to give the soup a completely new character. Sherry in the serving bowl can be nice or try a splash of stout for a different richness. Experiment on small amount so you don't mess up the whole pot. Garnish with croutons, crumbled bacon, chives, parsley or chopped scallion greens. Add chopped fried and drained Chorizo or Chourico for a Mexican or Portuguese variation.

Notes:

     When I think of chowder I think of Manhattan clam chowder. When you grow up in New Jersey at the shore, or anywhere else in the state for that matter, Manhattan is the chowder that you eat. When I moved to New England I was subject to bowl after bowl of lousy Manhattan or "Red" chowder as they call it because they put no effort into it. I finally needed to make some for myself and grew to enjoy it if it's done well. Left to my own devices I would still make Manhattan exclusively but Kelly prefers New England or "White" chowder. I also enjoy Rhode Island chowder which is a clear broth. No matter what you have to use fresh clams and it is well worth the effort clamming to get them.


Links:

The 28th annual Great Chowder Cook-Off is happening Saturday June 6, 2009 in Newport, Rhode Island. Check out some chowdah.

The Danger Kitchen Uncle Pat's Clam Chowder recipe. Manhattan chowder... The real stuff!

www.dangerkitchen.com Danger Kitchen has a home.

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