Tuesday, April 8, 2014

New England Clam Chowder

I was finishing up buying some snapper at the Whole Foods fish counter yesterday and as I was leaving, passed by the end of the display where they keep the fresh shellfish on ice and I could hear hubs voice haunting me.....

"Hey, sometime do you think you could make me some clam chowder?"

So damn demanding.

 Clam chowder happens to be one of his favorite foods and I've totally failed as a wife because since it's not one of my favorite foods, that shit ain't getting made.

 I happen to love a big bowl of clams steamed in some white wine and a little garlic with a big chunk of crusty bread to sop of the juices so, of course, I've made that, like, a billion times.

Wife of the Millennium right here.

 But since I was in a giving mood and those clams were staring me in the face at WF, I decided to throw the old guy a bone and make him some clam chowder.

So I bought three dozen clams which came out to about 2.5 lbs.  It looked like a lot of clams.  Apparently NOT.  Recipe called for SEVEN POUNDS OF CLAMS!!!  So now, we're just making 1/2 a recipe.

Oh and I forgot that clam chowder had potatoes in it, so I had to send the poor dude whose wife never makes him clam chowder to Publix to get some potatoes.  Yeah, I know what you're thinking...."hey genius, while he's at Publix, have him get some more clams."  Totally didn't think about that.

It all worked out fine in the end, because Mr. B got his clam chowder and since I'm not a huge fan, I opted to also let him have the leftovers!  I got the recipe from The Best Recipe, Soups & Stews and since it's from Cook's Illustrated, I knew it would be good.  

I opted to use an applewood smoked bacon and hubs mentioned that he loved the smokiness of the soup, so SCORE.

Here's the recipe:

New England Clam Chowder
Cook's Illustrated

7 pounds medium-sized hard-shell clams, such as cherrystones, washed and scrubbed clean
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 large Spanish onion, chopped medium
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 large bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
salt and pepper

Bring three cups water to a boil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven.  Add the clams and cover with a tight-fitting lid.  Cook for 5 minutes, uncover, and stir with a wooden spoon.  Quickly cover the pot and steam until the clams just open, 2 to 4 minutes.  Transfer the clams to a large bowl, cool slightly.  Open the clams with a pairing knife, holding the clams over a bowl to catch any juices.  With the knife, sever the muscle that attaches the clam belly to the shell and transfer the meat to a cutting board.  Discard the shells.  Mince the clams, set aside.  Pour the clam broth into a 2 quart measuring cup, holding back the last few tablespoons of broth in case of sediment (I strained mine through a coffee filter because there's nothing worse than gritty chowder!); set the clam north aside.  (You should have about 5 cups.  If not, add bottled clam juice or water to make this amount.)  Rinse and dry the pot then return it to the burner.

Fry the bacon in the empty pot over medium low heat until the fat renders and the bacon crisps, 5 to 7 minutes.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the flour and stir until lightly colored, about 1 minute.  Gradually whisk in the reserved clam broth.  Add the potatoes, bay leaf, and thyme and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Add the clams, cream, parsley, and salt (if necessary) and ground pepper to taste; bring to a simmer.  Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf, and serve immediately.

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