Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New England Clam Chowder

Looking back on my childhood I never fully realized how lucky I was to live with both my parents and grandparents. Yes having three stubborn Portuguese in one household at times could be chaotic but it also meant there were home-cooked meals every night of the week. Everyone in my family loved to cook!  Takeout food was nonexistent and only on special occasion would we all go out to dinner. Growing up my Grandpa Tony owned a few restaurants, one of which was called The Thirsty Whale. It was at this restaurant that his famous New England Clam Chowder came into existence. Originally from Massachusetts my grandpa understood the true meaning of New England Style; simple and basic, clam and potatoes, not too thick and not too thin, creamy and delicious. While there are many versions of this chowder that have celery, carrots, corn, etc. it is not authentic New England Clam Chowder like you would have if you went back east to his hometown. So in honor of the most wonderful and loving grandfather a girl could ask for, I am sharing with you his famous recipe, which I hope you will enjoy as much as I do. 
Fresh clams are great here in the Pacific Northwest

Mise en place

Just before making the roux

Grandpa Tony's                        New England Clam Chowder

Serves 6
4 slices bacon (thick) finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups finely chopped white onions
2 cloves garlic minced
2 teaspoons of special seasoning, recipe below
1 bay leaf
5 tablespoons all purpose flour
2- 8oz bottles of clam juice
1- 6.75oz can chopped clams, drained and juices reserved
1lb fresh clams, steamed and shucked
1- 10oz can baby clams, drained and juices reserved
3 cups half and half
3 large Russet potatoes, peeled, boiled and cubed
1 ½ teaspoon of white pepper

**You should have about 3 cups total of clam juice from the two bottles and the juices reserved from the cans. If you are using more fresh clams than canned, then have enough juice to make sure you have 3 cups. Also the total amount of clams is about 2 ½ cups**

Special Seasoning
½  teaspoon dried thyme
½  teaspoon garlic powder
½  teaspoon dried oregano
¼  teaspoon dill weed
¼  teaspoon tarragon
¼  teaspoon salt
Mix all spices together, if possible use a morter to crush.

1. Use a soup pot, put bacon and butter in on medium low heat to brown bacon about 8 minutes, do not let butter brown. Add in onions, garlic, bay leaf and seasonings, cook until softened about 6 more minutes
2. On medium heat whisk in flour, keep whisking and let the flour cook for about a minute. Then gradually whisk in the 3 cups of clam juice. Bring to a boil then reduce heat.
3. Whisk in the half and half, let simmer for 20 minutes (do not let boil).
4. Stir in potatoes, clams, and white pepper, heat until serving temperature. Careful not to let boil, it will toughen the clams. Serve in a bread bowl or with oyster crackers. This recipe can be prepared a day ahead. Just make sure to cool completely before refrigerating and then reheat the next day to serving temperature.

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