After shoveling several inches of snow this week in freezing temperatures, I needed something to warm me up. This chowder does the trick. It is rich, creamy, chunky, and delicious!
This clam chowder was adapted by Bon Appétit from SkipJack's, a Boston restaurant. Since Skipjack's is on the East Coast they have access to fresh clams. Since I am on the coast of the Great Lakes (hence the new name), I use Bon Appétit's version, which calls for bottled clams.
With a few adaptations to suit my own taste, I have what I think is the very best approximation of this classic--next to fresh clam chowder. I thickened it with some cornstarch, added a dash of Worcestershire and also a splash of dry Sherry. It is wonderful the day I make it, but after a night in the refrigerator, I think the flavor improves. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped fresh chives and handful of oyster crackers--they are a must. This is a serious bowl of yum!
So, if you are freezing like I am and nowhere near a fresh clam source, this recipe is for you. Or if you simply want an easier version of good clam chowder, then this recipe is for you too.
Great Lakes Clam Chowder
3 8-oz bottles clam juice
1 lb Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons (1 oz) butter
3 thick cut slices of bacon, finely chopped
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
2 large stalks of celery, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
6 6 1/2-oz cans chopped calms, drained and juices reserved
3 T cornstarch
1 1/4 cups half and half
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire
1 tablespoon dry Sherry
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Tabasco sauce, optional
Chopped fresh chives
In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the bottled clam juice and potatoes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
In a small bowl, mix together the reserved clam juices and cornstarch. Set aside.
In a large stock pot set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the bacon and cook until the bacon begins to brown, about 8-10 minutes. Add the onions, celery, garlic, and bay leaf and sauté until the vegetables soften, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the potato mixture and reserved clam juice mixture and bring to a boil. Stir until thickened about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the clams, half and half, Worcestershire, and Sherry. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt, pepper, and optional hot sauce. Serve with a garnish of chopped fresh chives and a handful of oyster crackers. Can be made the day before and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring to a slow simmer before serving. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from Bon Appétit, November 2000