I’ve always wanted to make my own New England clam chowder.
Chowdah, that is.
None of the red stuff. I don’t particularly care for the Manhattan clam chowder. I like chowdah.
For the Super Bowl, I decided to give it a go for a small gathering I was going to. I found a recipe that looked somewhat healthy on the Food Network’s website and went at it. It was a recipe by Ellie Krieger and seemed health-conscious, which I liked.
It wasn’t too hard.
But, despite some corn starch at the end, it wasn’t thick enough for my liking. It tasted good. I really liked it. But I wanted it a tad thicker. The recipe called for two pounds of frozen clams, but the store didn’t have them. So I went with canned clams, but unfortunately, they were minced. So no true “bite” of clams.
The people who tried it at the Super Bowl party seemed to like it, so I knew I was going in the right direction.
Round 2 came on Leap Day.
I started later than I probably should have, but the store did have frozen clams this time. However, I wasn’t up for paying $6 per pound knowing that I might not even be able to get them defrosted in time. So I debated options. I went to the canned aisle and saw something better this time — actual clams in a can! Not the minced stuff.
So I grabbed a couple of them.
This time, I also went with the Canadian bacon that the recipe calls for, rather than regular bacon as I used the first time. The reality is that it’s a bit of a garnish — you put it on top of the chowder when done — so either can work. Though, as I found out, the thickness and diced up portions of the Canadian bacon is a bit better with the chowder.
The recipe calls for a total time of 55 minutes (20 prep, 35 cooking), but that differs a little bit it seemed. I guess it all depends on how long the ‘taters take to cook. It also says it will yield six servings, but realize that it’s six large portions. So having a dinner with it might not be the best idea if you want a big ol’ serving of the chowder!
The ingredients called for:
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 4 slices Canadian bacon, diced (2 ounces) (Note: I used five slices)
- 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 6 stalks celery, diced (about 2 cups)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (Note: I used regular salt and pepper)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic (about 3 large cloves) (Note: I used the garlic in a bottle…more of a paste. Worked well)
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 2 1-pound containers frozen clams packed in their own juice, thawed, juice reserved (Note: I used canned and it’s good.)
- 1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups cold low-fat (1 percent) milk
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream (Note: You can use whipping cream, which has less fat and such).
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Hot sauce (such as Tabasco), for serving (optional) (I did not use).
Now, it was time to cook. Yum. I could taste the delicious chowder all along. Especially the second time when I was having clams that were full.
There’s something to be said about actually getting a clam or two in a spoonful of chowder, ya know?
- To start, heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add in the Canadian bacon, stirring frequently, until crisp. Then transfer the bacon to a plate. (+/- 3-4 minutes)
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, onion, celery, 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper to the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the veggies have softened. (+/- 6 minutes)
- Add the garlic, thyme and cook, stirring for 1 more minute.
- Add 1 1/2 cups of water, the clam juice (approx 1 1/2 cups), the potatoes and the bay leaf, bringing the soup to a boil.
- Now, partially cover the pot and simmer. Stir occasionally until the potatoes are tender. (+/- 15 minutes)
- Whisk the milk, cream and flour in a bowl until the flower is dissolved. Slowly add this to the pot, stirring constantly. Bring the soup to a simmer (no boiling here!)
- Reduce the heat to medium low, stirring occasionally, until thickened. (+/- 8 minutes)
- Add the clams and simmer 2 more minutes.
- Discard bay leave and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Before serving, stir in the bacon (and, add hot sauce if you want it).
Side note — I wanted it thicker. So before adding the clams, I also added corn starch a little at a time before getting the thickness I desired. Then I added the clams and went from there.
The end result was awesome.
I’m sure I’ve had much better chowdah — especially in Maine. But this was really good and was something that was relatively easy to make and was really tasty.
The website shows the nutritional facts as: Per serving: Calories 312; Fat 8 g (Saturated 2 g); Cholesterol 66 mg; Sodium 510 mg; Carbohydrate 33 g; Fiber 3 g; Protein 27 g.
Some of the other ones I had been looking at were WAY worse than that. I also used the whipping cream, so I’m sure these numbers went down a touch, if just slightly.
If you are a chowder fan, I would highly encourage you to try this recipe. It’s a simple and tasty way to enjoy some chowdah!
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