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New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder

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Recipe by: Chef John V.
History: I've been making this recipe, although in much larger quantities, for 20+ years. It's always been a big hit with chowder lovers!
description: Clams, potatoes and onions in a not-too-thick creamy concoction!
Serving size: about 1 1/2 quarts
Preparation time: about 1 hour 20 minutes


12 cherrystone clams (about 3 lbs.), washed twice under running cold water; (plus 3 cups water for steaming)
1 medium size bay leaf, about the size of a quarter (.25 cent piece)
2 cups potatoes, 1/4-inch dice then submerged in cold water to prevent browning
1 Tbsp. salt pork fat back, rind removed and then minced to a paste
5 Tbsp. Clarified butter
2 cups onions, minced
5 Tbsp. Flour
2 1/2  cups reserved clam broth---if more liquid is needed use the remaining clam broth as first choice, fish stock if you have any as second choice, water as third choice
1 cup light cream, warm
1 cup heavy cream
to taste salt about 1 tsp. to start
ground white pepper, 1/4 tsp.


1. Steam the clams in 3 cups water with bay leaf in a covered pot until they open. (about 15 minutes)
2. Strain the broth through a filter, chinois or cheesecloth and reserve it. Keep the broth warm for use later.
3. Pick clams from the shells, slice, remove belly grit, rinse, chop, and put aside the clams.
4. Cook the potatoes in lightly salted water until they are just fork tender. Drain then set aside let air dry and cool.
5. Render the salt pork in a pot with the clarified butter until the salt pork turns a light golden color but not brown; add the onions and sweat until they are translucent.
6. Add the flour; cook about 4-5 minutes on a medium-low flame. (Don't brown)
7. Add reserved 2 1/2 cups of broth and incorporate it completely first adding half, working out any lumps that might form with a wooden spoon and a whisk, add the remaining stock and repeat the incorporation as before. Bring it to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, add warm light cream gradually and incorporate it completely.
8. Simmer for 10 minutes, skimming the surface if necessary.
9. Add the clams, heavy cream, potatoes, salt and white pepper. Simmer 10 minutes on low flame to heat and meld the flavors.
(Needed will be additional clam broth or water to thin, maybe as much as 1 cup because of what evaporated during the cooking process. Your are looking for a light thickness such as tick as the heavy cream was.) There are many variations on clam chowder, some thick and some broth like. This one is in the middle!
10. Serve with a sprig of parsley and oyster crackers sprinkled on top the chowder.

(bottled clam broth or St. Ours & Company, the producer of dehydrated clam broth, makes a very good product.)

Don't want to go to all the trouble of cooking real clams? You can also use 1 lb. fresh or frozen chopped clams from a supermarket and then follow the recipe from step #5, they'll cook in the chowder when added in step #9. Add the small bay leaf at this point too!
Chowder Clams
Note: You can use margarine, leave out the salt pork, use milk in place of the cream. Canned clams and clam juice will work well too! But beware, it won't be the real thing!