I found a good clam chowder recipe in Bon Appétit a couple of years ago. Though it’s not a creamy chowder, it’s the best clam chowder recipe that we’ve been able to find. The ingredients produce a rich, hearty clam chowder with a complex mingling of flavors. I’m making myself hungry just writing about it.
- Three 8-oz bottles of clam juice
- One pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks (resist the urge to use Yukon Gold potatoes)
- Two tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
- Three slices bacon, finely chopped (I use thick, hammy deli bacon — use six slices of bacon if you’re using the thin, pre-packaged stuff)
- Two cups chopped onions (about one large yellow onion)
- Three stalks (about 1-1/4 cups) of celery with leaves, chopped
- Five garlic cloves, minced
- One bay leaf
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- Six 6-1/2 oz cans minced clams, drained, juices reserved (chopped clams are fine — I use minced because Kris doesn’t like large, rubbery clam chunks)
- 1-1/2 cups half-and-half
- One teaspoon hot pepper sauce (we use Tapatío, but you might prefer Tabasco)
- Optional: 1/2 teaspoon hickory smoke salt (hard-to-find, but great flavor!)
At the top of my recipe card I’ve written, in bold: NOTE: Prepare ingredients before starting! Experienced, or quick, cooks can ignore this advice. I’m neither experienced nor quick. If I don’t prepare the ingredients before starting the chowder, it’s a disaster.
- Bring the bottled clam juice and potatoes to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender (about ten minutes). Remove from heat.
- Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until bacon begins to brown (about 8-10 minutes). Add onions, celery, garlic, and bay leaf. Sauté until vegetables soften, about six minutes.
- Stir in flour and cook two minutes. Do not allow flour to brown.
- Gradually whisk in reserved juices from clams. Add potato mixture, calms, half-and-half, hickory smoke salt, and hot pepper sauce. Simmer chowder to blend flavors, stirring frequently.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Chowder can be served after as few as ten minutes of simmering, or it can sit on the stove contentedly for hours.
This is a damn good clam chowder, and it re-heats well. I made a double batch yesterday, so we’ll be eating it for a week or two, but with no complaints.
I sometimes make biscuits to go with the meal.
Cracked Pepper Biscuits
from November 1998 Bon Appétit
- Two tablespoons unsalted butter
- Two tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (or, if you’re forgetful like me, you might use rosemary instead)
- 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper (this might stand increasing)
- 1/2 cup chilled whole milk (I used half-and-half leftover from the chowder)
- One large egg
- Two cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- One tablespoon baking powder
- One teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Preparation is straight-forward, though it does require a food processor.
- Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
- Melt two tablespoons butter in heavy small skillet over medium heat. Add thyme (or rosemary) and cracked black pepper. Sauté until fragrant (about two minutes).
- Transfer thyme mixture to small bowl. Whisk in milk, then egg. Cover and chill until mixture is cold.
- Blend flour, baking powder, and salt in food processor.
- Add 3/4 cup butter. Using on/off pulses, process until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
- Add cold milk mixture. Using on/off pulses, process until moist clumps begin to form.
- Transfer dough to a floured work surface. Knead until the dough holds together (about six turns).
- Roll out dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Using two-inch diameter biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out biscuits. Reroll dough scraps and cut out additional biscuits, making sixteen biscuits total.
- Transfer biscuits to large baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about twelve minutes. Serve biscuits warm.
You might think, looking at these two recipes, that I’m a huge fan of Bon Appétit, which isn’t the case. I subscribed for a couple of years, and clipped interesting recipes, but generally I find the magazine to ad-centric for my tastes. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m now partial to Cook’s Illustrated.
On 04 January 2004 (12:30 PM),
J.D. Roth said:
On 24 January 2005 (06:38 PM),