Creamy, New England style clam chowder is probably one of those foods high up on many people's "comfort food" list. Me too. The problem is: you don't know how much flour is typically in it, it often tastes more like a mildly clam flavored milk gravy made from a roux, doesn't have enough clam, has too much potato, or is the consistency of wallpaper paste.
I have solved all of those problems. This recipe will give you delicious, creamy clam flavor in every bite and slurp.
- 24 fresh whole clams
- 2 cans (6.5oz ea) of quality chopped clams (of course you can use all canned, all fresh, or whatever mix you like—those 24 clams come out to about the equivalent of one can).
- 4 strips of bacon
- 2 bottles of quality clam juice
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 1/2 - 2 cups celery, diced
- 1-2 inches of carrot, finely chopped (mostly for color)
- 1 handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 2 large potatoes
- 1 rounded tablespoon dried thyme (or equivalent of fresh)
- 1-2 tablespoons finely ground black pepper (to taste, I like a lot)
- 1-2 tablespoons salt (to taste)
- 1 quart half & half
- 1 pint heavy cream
- 1/2 cube butter (I always use unsalted)
- Get all of your clam juice together in one pot, i.e., the two bottles, and drain the juice from the 2 cans. Add your white wine (you can use cooking sherry, too). Bring to a light boil, toss in your fresh clams, and watch closely for them to open. Immediately take them off the heat, strain them, keep all the clam juice, then remove the clam meat from the shells and chop. Put all the clams from the cans and your chopped clams together and set aside.
- Slice, dice and fry your 4 slices of bacon. Add it to the pot, drippings and all.
- Peel and cube your potatoes, dice your onion, and introduce them to the clam juice / white wine / bacon and bring to a boil. When soft, take a potato masher and do THREE (not 1 or 2, not 4) mashes in the pot in different places. This will release enough starch to give you a nice thickening texture, but nowhere near a paste. This also alleviates any need to use a flour roux or thickener, per all recipes I've seen.
- Now add your celery, carrot, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper, half & half, cream, and butter. In other words, add all ingredients except the clams. You might want to hold off on the salt & pepper to the very end if you're concerned about too much.
- Bring it to a very light simmer / boil for maybe 10 minutes, until you get the creamy consistency you deire. Turn off the heat, stir in the clams and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. You don't want to overcook the clams, unless you like them rubbery. If you do, cook away.
- Serve. For a meal it will serve about 4. For an app, it'll cover 8 people.
It was the best clam chowder I have ever had. Delicious clamminess in every bite and slurp. Don't overlook the black pepper. In fact, I added more to my bowl after this picture was taken. Also, I think one more can of clams would have been just fine as well.