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“Clam Chowder”

Also known as… “how to cook a clam.”

Word on the street is that my clam digging pictures are freaking you out. I’m sorry to give you the heebie jeebies. But they taste good, I promise. Besides, don’t you want to know what to do if someone drops you on an island somewhere and tells you to fend for yourself?

Here is what I did with the horseneck clams from my clamming expedition. It’s the best clam chowder you’ve ever tasted.


This is what you will need. I wish I had some sort of exotic clam juice but I didn’t. I had homemade chicken stock though. And homemade bacon. And white wine, rosemary (that I lifted from a bush on the “sidewalk” sshhh), bay leaf, onion, mushrooms, potatoes, garlic, cream.

MMM, Cream.


And you’ll need this. Clam meat. Lips, and diggers, and necks. Nothing else.


I had bacon in my freezer leftover from my curing craze. It was calling my name. I cut this bacon into what the French call “lardons.” They’re just small cubic rectangular bits that look dainty. They’re a good size for eating.

First you render the fat until the bacon begins to get crispy.


Then you add the diced onion and let it get soft and golden.


Then comes the mushrooms, which become golden brown as well.


Then you deglaze with the white wine and let it cook down.


Then you add your chicken stock.


Remember how I mentioned I would show you how to open the clam up yesterday? Here goes…


There are two tubes. You could likely do this with your fingers, or you can take a paring knife and cut along one side of the first tube.


Then cut along the second tube until you have a rectangular “steak.”


That’s when you can cut it into long strips.


And bite sized squares. Like so.


Then add your clams with your clam juice and let it simmer. Or fish stock if you prefer.

In the last 30 minutes you’ll add the potatoes. I use the starch from these as a thickener rather than flour or cornstarch. There’s something about adding flour to soup that offends my soul. I can’t explain it it just does. But if it doesn’t offend you then you could use flour as a thickener instead, but you would whisk it in, before adding any liquids.


Plus I think the color of the red potatoes makes things more festive. Color on a plate always makes the food taste better.


Check your taters to see that they’re cooked through.

Once they are, add your cream and bring it to a simmer, then turn off the heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


This tastes even better the next day, so feel free to let it sit overnight so the flavors meld.

As you can imagine, I have a lot more of these strange looking beasts in my freezer. So you can expect some other clam recipes in the future. Though I’ll spare you the frightening pictures. Maybe next week we’ll make cream puffs to wash away the clam images. Cream puffs are comforting.

“Clam Chowder”

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Yield: 5 cups

“Clam Chowder”

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup bacon, cut into lardons
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, Crimini or button, quarters or sixths
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • Rosemary & bay leaf, or other aromatic of choice
  • 2 cups clams
  • 8 ounces clam juice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup red potatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup half and half or cream
  • 1 pinch cayenne (optional)
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Render the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat, until it begins to get crispy. Add the onions and saute until golden brown. Add the mushrooms and garlic halfway through cooking the onions and brown as well.
  2. Add the herbs and wine and deglaze the pan. Let the liquid reduce by half. Remove the rosemary.
  3. Add the clams and stir. Add the clam juice and chicken stock. Simmer on low for 30 minutes, covered.
  4. Add the potatoes and cook for about 30 minutes more, or until fork tender.
  5. Finish with cream, a pinch of cayenne, a few turns of pepper and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer, turn off the heat and let sit. Letting it sit overnight will improve the flavor even more.
http://georgiapellegrini.com/2010/06/24/recipes/clam-chowder/