Sunday, December 8, 2013

My Faster Clam Chowder

My Faster Clam Chowder
As shared by Once Upon a Plate by Mari

I rarely measure when I'm making soups, stews or chowders but I've given the basic measurements and directions below. As always, feel free to adjust to your own taste!

1/3 cup cubed salt pork,
OR 6 to 8 strips thick-sliced bacon, cut cross-wise into 1/4" wide strips
4 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, diced
4 ribs celery, small to medium dice
You may want to add a finely diced carrot, I usually don't
1 to 2 cloves chopped garlic (optional)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon or more fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried

1 to 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

4 cans (6 ounce can) chopped clams, with their juices
2 large Russet potatoes, peeled and diced, about 1/2" dice. (May use waxy potatoes if you prefer)
10 ounces clam juice (can use chicken stock)
3 cups half-and-half (can use whole milk)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt (more or less, to your taste)
A few dashes hot sauce (optional)
Salt and pepper
Chopped parsley leaves, or fresh thyme leaves, for garnish

Slowly cook salt pork or bacon in a large stockpot until fat is rendered (don't overcook); remove salt pork or bacon from pan and reserve.

Melt butter in the bacon fat in the stockpot. Add onions, celery, and garlic to the pot; cook on medium-high heat until the vegetables are transparent. Add flour, stir and cook for about 5 minutes. Then add diced potatoes, clam juice and milk, bay leaf and thyme; bring to a boil. Simmer and stir for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in clams to heat through. (At this point you can add in the cooked pork or bacon, if desired.) Season to taste with salt and pepper and hot sauce if using.

Please Note: (If you like a thicker chowder you may thicken this with a bit of Beurre Manie*)
*Softened butter mixed with an equal amount of all purpose flour until completely smooth. Stir a bit into gently
simmering chowder until thickened. Begin with a small amount (a teaspoon or two), simmer and check consistency. Add a bit more if chowder is not thick enough.

Remove from heat, find and discard bay leaf. Allow chowder to cool just slightly. Serve, garnished with chopped parsley.

I don't add the fresh, minced parsley to the chowder while it's cooking because it loses it's bright green color. Instead I serve it on top, or in a small serving dish with a spoon and let each person add, and stir in their own. And I pass the peppermill at the table ~ some people I know like lots of freshly ground black pepper in their chowder. Others like a couple of shakes of hot sauce, or a pat of butter to float on top so I offer those, too.
Hope you enjoy it!