No New England dish has been subjected to more abuse than clam chowder. My recipe may not be the definitive or only authentic recipe for this famous dish, but it has the virtue of being very true to the spirit and style of the original. Chowder is a one-pot dish, more of a stew than a soup. It should be thick but not thickened. Although a sprinkling of flour is usually added, the dish is normally thickened by the starch released from the potatoes during the cooking. Chowder is a perfect main course for lunch or a light supper. Serve it with oyster crackers, biscuits or clam fritters. Fritters and chowder are a marriage made in heaven!
- 2 pounds Hen clams, chopped or
- 5 pounds Littleneck clams in the shell
- 1/4 pound salt pork, diced
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 2 1/2 cups onions, diced
- 1 tbsp white flour
- 3 cups white potatoes, 1/2-inch cubed
- 3 cups half and half cream
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tbsps fresh parsley, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
Hen clams are the variety most often used in New England chowder. It is a larger clam normally found chopped and frozen and is slightly pink in color. Should you wish to use Littleneck clams, simply place 5 pounds in 1 inch of boiling water, cover and steam until the clams open, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and save the stock removing the meat from the shells. In a 1-gallon saucepot, heat salt pork over medium-high heat. Render the fat, but do not brown. When the fat has been rendered, add butter. When melted, stir in the diced onions. Cook 2 to 3 minutes stirring occasionally. Sprinkle in flour to create a white roux. Add potatoes, cream, milk and thyme, bring to a low boil then reduce to simmer. When potatoes are fork tender, but not falling apart, add clams and approximately 1 cup of the clam stock if available. Season to taste using parsley, salt and pepper. Serve hot with your favorite crackers or fritters.