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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Clam Chowder



From the kichen of One Perfect Bite...In a perfect world garlic would be peeled and minced as needed, chicken stock would bubble gently on the stove, and kitchen shortcuts would be unheard of. I've been blessed with a near perfect life but it's spent in an imperfect world, so shortcuts abound in my kitchen. I not proud of them, mind you, but they are a real part of my life and there are nights that dinner would never make it to the table without them. I share them when I think they might be helpful, but for the most part they are my secrets and I reveal them in the same way you peel an onion, a layer at a time. Having said that, I suspect it won't surprise you to learn that I smile when the pros talk about shucking oysters or picking crab. I think it's important to know how to do those things, but, in the great scheme of things, I don't think it's necessary to actually do them. My bad attitude extends to clams as well. For years, I refused to make chowders with anything other than fresh clams and I'd pay premium prices to have them opened and chopped. My fishmonger loved to see me and my wallet coming. I still prefer to use fresh clams, but several years ago the warehouse stores started carrying restaurant-size cans of chopped clams and I have had them in my pantry ever since. They really are an acceptable alternative to fresh clams in dips, spreads, fritters and chowders. One of the problems that empty nesters encounter is the quantity of food that is produced when standard recipes are followed. Chowder is no exception. Several years ago Cook's Illustrated developed a chowder that used canned clams and was scaled to feed two people. It's a treasure of a recipe and if you enjoy chowder I hope you'll give it a try. A careful reading of the recipe will show it can easily be scaled up or down. I've made it for eight and I've made it for one. It works every time. There are a few things I want to share with you. I use 1/3 cup of drained, chopped clams for each can the recipe calls for. I use 1/4 cup finely chopped onion for each person I'll be feeding. One of the current oddities in recipe development is the push to list ingredients for some by weight rather than measure, while still calling for ballpark-general measures like half an onion or juice of a lime in others. What size onion? What size lime? I digress. This is a really nice recipe and those of you who try it will love it. The chowder is best made with heavy cream but it is workable with light cream or half-and-half. Here's the recipe.

Clam Chowder for Two
...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite, courtesy of Cook's Illustrated

Ingredients:

2 (6.5-ounce) cans minced clams
1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
Water , if necessary
2 slices thick-cut bacon (about 2 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 onion , chopped fine
1 clove minced garlic
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
2 large red potatoes (about 3/4 pound), scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 - 3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves

Instructions:
1) Drain clams, reserving juices. Add bottled clam juice to reserved clam juice to measure 2-1/2 cups (if short, add enough water to make up difference).
2) Cook bacon in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat until beginning to crisp, about 5 minutes. Stir in onion and cook until onion has softened and bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes.
3) Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour and coat vegetables, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in clam broth. Stir in potatoes, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
4) Stir in clams, cream, and parsley. Return to a simmer briefly, then remove from heat. Discard bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Yield: 2 servings.

You might also enjoy these recipes:
Ginger and Clam Soup - RasaMalaysia
Linguine and Clams and Garlic White Wine Sauce - The Red Spoon
Cuban Clam Fritters with Cilantro Mayonnaise - Lazaro Cooks
Steamed Clams in a Beer, Lemon and Garlic Sauce - Boston Whine and Dine
Spicy Asian-Style Noodles with Clams - Very Culinary
Clams and Mussels in Tomato Broth - Magiandobene

62 comments:

Katerina said...

The same problem has my mother. She and my father are empty nesters and when you go to her house her fridge can feed over 10. She hasn't adjusted yet. Your chowder looks very comforting!

Lisa said...

That looks so good. I can just imagine myself tucking into a steaming bowlful of that on a cold winter's night.

James said...

Thank you for this amazing recipe. This is my favorite soup and I simply must try your recipe.

kitchen flavours said...

My children had clam chowder at a restaurant once, and they love it. Thank you for sharing this recipe, it looks really delicious!

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

The clams would be no problem and I can get them fresh here, but clam juice - now that could be a problem. Will have to supplement but this sounds very tasty and will certainly try it out. Diane

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

look creamy and good!

Sushma Mallya said...

Looks lovely..

Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

Mary, thank you for this recipe! It's nice to hear you say that canned clams are ok, I've wanted to try this soup and that's what has stopped me! Also, I've been cutting recipes in half for years, love to eat, but not the same thing every day of the week:@)

Yvonne @ StoneGable said...

Mary, I have been looking for a great soup to make this weekend as we have a huge crowd at my house for a birthday weekend!
Your wonderful soup is on the menu!
And I love that I can make it for 2-4 later too.
Wonderful recipe and beautiful photos! I know when I come to your site that you always have something I'll want to make!
Yvonne

Linda Starr said...

It's definitely soup weather here in NC where I am visiting, looks so good.

From the Kitchen said...

We do need recipes that feed less, but like those that can be expanded.

The summer of 2009 found me in New England sampling clam chowders to serve as a starter for our son's wedding. We quickly narrowed it down to New England clam chowder (did you know there's a Rhode Island clam chowder) and the Brown University Faculty Club did a fantastic job of preparing it deliciously for almost 200 guests.

I've just put canned clams on the grocery list.

Best,
Bonnie

Brenda said...

Mary, I just adore clam chowder and I can't imagine NOT using a shortcut now and then. I love that this recipe feeds 2. Perfect. It looks and sounds wonderful, I'm looking forward to making it. Have a great day!

Kim said...

I never had clam chowder... I know I should and I would soon! Yours soudns lovely. Have a good day!

GLENDA CHILDERS said...

It is definitely soup weather in Seattle. This delicious chowder is going on my menu this week. Thanks, Mary.

Fondly,
Glenda

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Much need rain from a tropical storm is drenching our area today and a cup of your rich corn chowder would be the perfect lunch.
Sam

Sanjeeta kk said...

Chowder looks so comforting, Mary. Hope I can make it minus the clams. Thinking about what to substitute? Beautiful color.

Miss Meat and Potatoes said...

I bet the fishmonger DID love you! This recipe and photo is a perfect example of why your blog is so darned loved. You manage to make the most scrumptious recipes that are both familiar yet slightly better than our memories. Love a good chowder! Thanks for sharing.

pigpigscorner said...

yuuum...how I wish I can find those cans of clams here. I love shortcuts too =P

Design Wine and Dine said...

I will take your advice and begin keeping canned clams on hand b/c this classic soup is one of my all time favorites!

Beautiful bowl of soup and recipe! Thanks Mary!

Priya said...

Slurpp, droolworthy chowder..

CaSaundraLeigh said...

Clam chowder has always been a favorite of mine!! I can't decided if I like the creamy version or the Manhattan version, but there's no doubt your recipe for it turned out delicious!

Patsyk said...

I love clam chowder and since I have not learned to shuck clams, it's good to know that canned chopped clams will be a perfectly acceptable short-cut. We all use them, just for different reasons at different times. It's all good food in the end after we do our magic!

Cathy said...

Your chowder is just the way I like it, Mary. I think this is my favorite soup. I'm with you, I stopped shucking clams for soup years ago and think canned are delicious.

Dishesdone said...

Looks fantastic! And perfect for the rainy day we are having here today, wish I had a big bowl of your delicious soup!

Jenn said...

Clam chowder is my favorite type of soup (it's gotta be New England style like this though, don't like the red one!) I've always heard using canned oysters would not be as good.. Looks like I have found my go to recipe now! Thanks for sharing!

Jess @ Bakericious said...

looks very creamy!

Tanyia said...

oooh yumm, ty!

Big Dude said...

One of my favorite soups and I have a half dozen different recipes, this one sounds like a winner and thanks for the onion and clam tips.

A Hopeful Heart said...

I LOVE clam chowder, so I will definitely be trying this recipe.

Interestingly, a few years ago, we were on a trip to New England. we had chowder (chowda, as they call it) in both Massachusetts and Maine. Not to hurt any feelings, but far and away, we preferred the Massachusetts version...seems they use cream, while Maine chowder is made with milk and is, therefore, less thick.

Anyhow, I want to try your recipe. And I know that I will always be using canned clams to do so.

Have a lovely day.

Blessings,
Patti

Susan said...

Mary, we've had clam chowder several times this summer, but not of my making. I am very anxious to try this recipe. Wondering if clam chowder freezes well. Thanks for all the hints...one layer at a time!!!! Now start packing!

Kim said...

WOW, i just started shopping for clam chowder, the OLD fashioned way.. oh boy.. yours look so much easier!!!!!! Love it!

Lisa said...

Great chowder! We are a family of 4 but only 2 like clams so this is perfect. I love kitchen shortcuts!

penny aka jeroxie said...

It is hard to cook for just 2 so usually, I just cook more and keep. Yum to clam chowder.

Tasha said...

I absolutely love clam chowder. Your version looks fantastic and surprisingly simple to prepare.

Keeley said...

I love clam chowder, but I live in a household of two, so often we have waste. I am bookmarking this recipe because I can scale it to exactly the amount we need.

Cheryl said...

I have never made clam chowder before, this recipe looks perfect to me!

StephenC said...

My fishmonger has "chowder" clams - actually chopped quahogs. They come frozen and are a better comprimise between canned and fresh. They need to be cooked about 10 minutes at a simmer. You've made me long for a chowder.

bellini valli said...

Cooking for one or 2 is the norma around here. Enough for 2 delicious meals.

Emily Z said...

Mmmm I haven't had clam chowder in years but I used to love it as a kid. This sounds perfect for the cooler weather!

Mrs. Mix-it said...

Love It!!! I love making soup in the fall and yours looks so yummy! Unfortunately, I am allergic to shell fish, but maybe, I can make the recipe with a substitute? We will see. Thanks again for the amazing post and inspiration!

Anonymous said...

I visited Seattle for the first time last week & think the clam chowder at Pike Place Chowder is the best I've ever had. This looks similar to theirs. Thanks for the recipe!

Martha in KS

Joanne said...

There are some rare occasions when I think it's not okay to take shortcuts, but for the most part...I'm all about taking the easy way out! This chowder sounds fantastic!

Melissa and Zack said...

yummmmm that looks so good and something perfect on a rainy fall day!

Karen said...

Clam chowder is one of my favorites, having grown up in Massachusetts. I'm sorry to see summer end, but soup weather is on the way, and for that I'm glad ;)

Ginny said...

I don't not think it's true that the recipes that are the most trouble are the best. Something quick and rather easy can be just as good. I don't like the weights, I have no scale and don't want one. So then I have to eyeball it. I just like percise measerements.

aipi said...

Looks delicious..so creamy n comforting!

US Masala

Suzanne said...

Your clam chowder looks yummy, I need to try it out. You have such a lovely blog that I wanted others to know about it so I nominated you for an award. Check my link for more.

http://youmadethatblog.wordpress.com/2010/10/01/things-you-might-have-missed-and-a-blog-award/

PeggyR said...

We love clam chowder. The receipe sounds wonderful.

Allie and Pattie said...

Mary, this is one of my personal favorite chowders. I do think I will treat myself this week :) Have a wonderful weekend
xoxo Pattie

My Little Space said...

Hmm..mm... Mary, you made them sound so delicious. My mouthwatering already! Thank you and hope you'll have a great weekend.
Cheers, Kristy

Gloria said...

What's lovely soup dear Mary!! I love soup every time!! blessings, gloria

Josie said...

This reminds me of the chowder my mom use to make around the Holidays, very comforting : )

Adelina said...

looks so so good- had corn chowder before- and I am sure it is far from being the same.

Monet said...

This reminds me of the summers I spent in Maine. I felt like we made/ate clam chowder almost every other day. I have yet to make my own batch since living out West. Seeing this recipe makes me want to give it a try! Thanks for sharing!

Rita said...

Good syuff; very similar to my recipe. the only time I make now is when the kids come to visit.
Rita

Debinhawaii said...

I have been craving clam chowder and this looks wonderful and easy to make too! ;-)

Pondside said...

It's getting to be Clam Chowder time, as the weather cools. This is my mother's favorite soup/stew. Hers is delicious, but never the same twice, and she is always on a quest for the best clam chowder, always ordering it in maritime restaurants.
I quite agree with you about shortcuts. While I think it's good to know what to do with a walking, clucking chicken in order to get it to the roasting pan, I don't want to be doing it myself on a regular basis!

patissierement-votre said...

This makes me think about whole food delicious corn chowder and I'm dying to try this recipe :)

Taylor said...

This looks so delicious! Cook's Illustrated really knows what they're doing...can't wait to make this!

scrambledhenfruit said...

I love that this recipe makes 2 servings! I'm a new "almost empty" nester, and I'm finding it hard to get out of the habit of cooking for an army!

petite nyonya said...

Delicious soup!!

Foodessa said...

I don't quite make clam chowder enough...yet, it's one of my favourites. I'm also a fan of Cook's Illustrated and a fan of the small changes you've made to this recipe.

Flavourful wishes,
Claudia

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