Monday, January 06, 2014

Simple recipes- New England Clam Chowder-esque

Traditionally Christmas Eve dinner includes a pot of New England Style Clam Chowder around our table no matter what theme or menu I make, this is a mainstay in the box of Distler traditions.  Now it is not a traditional recipe but, what I create.
My Dad always did a combination of Manhattan and New England which included a quart of his canned tomatoes in a huge pot of sauteed slab bacon, carrots, celery, potatoes, clams, clam broth, thyme and parsley. He put a lot of clams, purchasing a quart of broth and a quart of clams from Thompson's Meat and Deli of St. Marys Pa.  It was more in tune with a big pot of clam vegetable soup to be honest, but truly heart warming and delicious.  My version is more on the white side and I use less clams and broth with 2-6 oz. of clams in their own juices, not an extra quart of broth.  His pot was also a 16 quart, where mine is 1/2 that size.

Here is what we start with:

  • 1/2 lb. slab bacon
  • 3 medium onions
  • 3-4 ribs celery
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 3/4 c. all purpose flour
  • water
  • chicken broth
  • 5 medium white potatoes
  • 2 can clams or more save broth
  • reserved clam broth 
  • fresh parsley
  • fresh thyme

  1. dice slab bacon,  saute in pot until done, then add the diced onions, celery ribs to the bacon and it's rendered fat until translucent in a large stock pot.
  2. put in stick of unsalted butter then make a roux from the rendered bacon fat and butter by adding the flour to the pot stirring until all the flour is mixed in.  Now it is time to pour in the water and chicken broth on top of the roux.
  3. depending on size of pot will determine how much water and broth you pour in, usually a 3 to 1 ratio. Fill the pot 2/3 with water, the small amount of reserved clam broth and then add 1/3 of the stock...  NOW I am not saying all the way to the top with the liquids, for potatoes will need to be added at some point, clams and perhaps cream or milk if you desire.  
  4. let this simmer for a decent amount of time, perhaps an hour, no more than 2 is needed.
  5. start preparing your potatoes with peeling and dicing in medium size pieces
  6. after the allotted simmering time, toss in potatoes, cooking until just about finished for the pot will be reheated perhaps different times during the evening and will also continue cooking when the pot is turned off.  
  7. when potatoes are done, add the drained  clams, fresh parsley and thyme.
  8. TASTE, do you need more clam flavor?  This year unbeknownst to my guests, I needed to add more flavor and thought about what I could do.. Fish Sauce was my solution along with a teaspoon of sugar for clams tend to add a sweetness to the pot.  
This makes a very tasty bowl of Chowder.  
You can also add croutons, snipped fresh herbs and milk or cream when ladled as pictured above.
Bummer, I should have poured in a swirl of cream to the bowl adding some great contrast to the shot..... 

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