Thursday, January 27, 2011

Clam Chowdah

How many styles of clam chowder are there? First, you've got to draw the line between Manhattan and New England. But if you choose New England, you have to decide how thick it's going to be. I've had clam chowder that was thin broth with square chunks of potato, and I've had it a the other extreme as well.

And when I say extreme, I mean extreme. My husband's all-time favorite clam chowder is thick. Massively thick. It could be mistaken for lumpy mashed potatoes. Okay, maybe not quite that thick. But almost. Pretty close.

I had a 28-ounce can of baby clams on hand, and figured it was time to make clam chowder. I'd made it before, but it's been a while, so I started looking at recipes. And hmmmm.... I found a few that used flour as a thickener. Interesting.

Many recipes call for salt pork or bacon, but I didn't have any of either, so I went porkless.

So .. I started with 4 large Idaho potatoes, which I peeled, cut into chunks, and cooked in salted water until they were done. I poured the water off until it was just below the level of the potatoes, then added a quart of milk and cooked the potatoes more, encouraging them to break up to thicken the liquid.

I melted 2 tablespoons of butter to a small frying pan and added 1/2 of a medium onion, diced finely. When the onions were softened, I added a couple tablespoons of flour to make a roux. I stirred and cooked, then added some of the liquid from the potatoes to the onion pan an let that cook and thicken. Then I emptied the contents of the frying pan into the soup stirred it around and let it cook and thicken.

I tasted it to make sure the raw flour taste was gone, then added a bottle of clam juice and about half the clams from that can. I'll be making something else with the rest of those clams. I let the soup cook to warm up the clams, then tasted and added salt and pepper. I didn't add salt sooner because I figured that the clam juice and clams might add some salt of their own.

Soup is supposed to mound up in the bowl, right?
And that was it. Super-thick clam chowder.

On day 2, the soup was even thicker after an overnight rest in the refrigerator.

I'm betting that most people wouldn't want a clam chowder this thick. No problem. Cut back on the roux or leave it out, and don't break the potatoes up as much. You can also add more milk and/or clam juice to thin it out even more. Hey, it's your soup. Make it the way you like it! I won't tell...

1 comment:

Sara said...

I like this "bare bones" recipe. I've never heard of clam chowder being made this way, but it sounds so easy. I do prefer chowder a lot thinner than this, but I think it's all about how you grow up.

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