New England (and it has to be New England) Clam Chowder is something Hubby looks for on every menu of every restaurant we go to. I had never had it before. Mostly because clams never struck me as appetizing. Yes, you can go ahead and think it – I was afraid of the clams.
This recipe, from the Thanksgiving issue of Bon Appétit magazine, changed my mind about clams. Hubby saw the recipe and knew right away he was going to make it. I have to be honest. I wasn’t looking forward to it (In fact, I may have hidden the magazine from him, hoping he would forget about it).
In this case, I was happy to be wrong. This clam chowder is perfect, even for a clamophobic like me. It’s hearty, the flavors are perfectly blended and it couldn’t be more satisfying. Hubby has proclaimed this one of the best clam chowder he’s ever had. And he lived in New England, where it really is everywhere, for years!
Note: We just don’t have fresh clams around here, so we used the canned kind along with bottled clam juice. (That option is included in the published recipe, so we figured it was okay. Oh yes, it was more than okay!) The other thing I love about this clam chowder? It’s all made in one pot!
To make this chowder:
First, we melted a tablespoon of butter over medium heat in our Dutch oven (you can use any large, heavy pot). Then, we cooked 8 ounces of bacon (cut into 1/2 inch pieces) in the butter until it just started to turn brown. This took us about 12 minutes.
At this point we added 6 cups of bottled clam juice, along with 2 1/2 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes cut into 1/2 inch pieces. This is also where we added one bay leaf and a tablespoon of thyme. Stir everything up good, bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are very tender.
You have just made a spectacular New England Clam Chowder! This is where you will want to have some oyster crackers. We didn’t. Hubby is ashamed he completely forgot to get some. “You can’t have clam chowder without oyster crackers,” he said. I don’t know about that, we added a few chives and it was nothing short of delicious!
New England Clam Chowder Recipe
From the 2012 Thanksgiving issue of Bon Appétit Magazine, print the original recipe here, or find it on page 56 of the magazine (as long as you’re on that page, check out the Cranberry Shortbread too, it was so easy and so good!)
Makes 8-10 servings
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 8 ounces bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 celery stalks, minced
- 1 large onion, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 10 oz. can or bottle clam juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 cups heavy cream
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
- 2 10 oz. cans baby clams
- Chopped fresh chives
- Oyster crackers or Vermont Common Crackers
Melt butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon begins to brown, about 8 minutes. Add celery, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add reserved broth (or 6 cups bottled clam juice), potatoes, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring chowder base to a simmer; cook until potatoes are tender, 20-25 minutes. Stir cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl to form a slurry. Stir slurry into chowder base; return to a boil to thicken. DO AHEAD Base can be made 1 day ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Keep clams chilled. Bring base to a simmer before continuing.
Remove base from heat. Discard bay leaf. Stir in two 10-ounce cans baby clams and cream. Season with salt, if needed (clams’ brininess varies), and pepper.
Divide chowder among bowls. Garnish with chives and oyster crackers.Now, what other clam recipes can I try? I heart clams