Clam Chowder Rich, Slightly Briney, with Nappe!

We had eaten most of our bowls and I had forgotten to take photos. But you need this recipe now because it is cold and rainy in July and nothing quite takes away the gloom like clam chowder and a nicely toasted grainy bread with butter.

My Clam Chowder


2 cups clams, manila, steamers, butter type, geoduck, washed and chopped small, I don’t like big chunks, this is about 4 lb. of clams in the shell if they are the little steamers…if your steaming water is clean, no grit, then add 1 cup of the steaming water to the onion/celery mix below.

1 ounce, about 1 thick slice, cooked bacon. This is optional, yet that smokey, salty flavor is a perfect partner for almost any critter that comes out of the sea….and we know how it likes to cling to potatoes

1/2 yellow onion, 1/4 inch dice

2 large stalks celery, 1/4 inch dice

2 large russet potatoes, peeled, 1/2 inch dice

1/2 t. white pepper

1/2 t. celery salt

1/2 stick salted butter

1/4 cup flour

3 cups half and half or milk

Bring 4 cups water to boil in a medium sauce pan and when this comes to boil, turn down to low and add your potatoes. Cook for 4-5 minutes, potatoes are just done, still firm in the middle. Take off heat, drain, and set aside.

Melt 1 T. butter in medium sauce pot and add the onions, celery, white pepper and celery salt. Sweat these vegetables until they are translucent and soft, about 10 minutes, on low heat. Add the rest of the butter and melt. Add the flour and cook, stirring around so the flour and butter blend in that heavenly relationship of roux. pas ‘d roux?

Heat 3 cups of half and half or milk to scald. Add this plus any steaming liquid left over, and the bacon to the pot of vegetable and roux. Mix briskly with a wire whip (say that a couple of times!) until it begins to thicken. Add the clams and potatoes, stirring more carefully now so as not to break up the potatoes. Heat is still on low. Allow this to begin to bubble slightly, 5 minutes. The chowder should definitely coat a spoon or have extra nappe as a pastry chef would call it. Taste for seasoning. It should not need anything but if you think it needs salt by all means use your favorite sea salt. If you like it zippy add a few red pepper flakes and wait 10 minutes to serve so the heat sets in.

Some folks like dill in their chowder. It radically changes the flavor so take care.

To mix it up you could make a shrimp chowder, same kind of directions and ingredients and definitely add the dill here….maybe 1/2 t. at the most.  A tiny bit of grated lemon zest is good in this one too.

Serve what ever kind of chowder you make with thick crusty slices of toasted bread with lots of butter… or dunk the toast into the chowder. Some folks break the toast up into bits and add it to the chowder, it gets a bit soggy, a poor girls dumpling of sorts.

Sorry there is not a picture available…..but you can taste it right? The salty, rich, yet creamy texture, the clamminess of the clammies, the stalwart yet tender friendliness of the potatoes, and the stability of base notes celery and onion.

You know, it is wonderful to have those living clams in their little shells in the neighborhood but if you live far from these sweet treats you can always get canned clams in their juices and use that. Just be sure to taste them and adjust the amount of salt you need.

Stay warm out there in…..July!


One Response to “Clam Chowder Rich, Slightly Briney, with Nappe!”

  1. all three Says:

    Thank you for a great post.

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