Homemade Clam Chowder Recipe
Which Clam Chowder do you like most?
Clam chowder is an age-old American staple. There are many regions of America that boast the “best” clam chowder and most people agree that East Coat Clam Chowder is the best around (mostly because of the sea food; the belief is that Atlantic sea food is better than Pacific).
There are the well known Manhattan clam chowder (red because of the ketchup) and New England (which is white because of the cream and the most recognized and popular style of chowder).
The history of clam chowder goes back to the American Colonists. Originally, the chowder was most just a broth with potatoes and corn. Later sea food was added, then, finally, heavy cream was introduced into the recipe and the first “official” clam chowder was born.
The variations on that particular recipe continue to this day.
I live in Northern California and have never had the opportunity to visits the East Coast to try the True New England Clam Chowder, but I know people who have eaten New England clam chowder. They say that there are two places in Northern California where the clam chowder is “equal” to New England’s clam chowder: San Francisco and Monterey.
I’ve eaten both of these cities chowder and thought I’d make an attempt to making my own version of clam chowder.
I don’t claim that the following recipe is New England clam chowder or the equal to it, but it is one that I like.
I use a roux in mine so that it will help thicken the chowder and give it a rich texture. Also, I use vegetable broth (mainly because I could not find fish stock) instead of chicken broth so that the clams can be the dominate flavor.
If you want to try and make your own clam chowder instead of eating it out of a can or paying a lot for a good bowl of it, you can use this recipe (and make any changes you like) and save yourself some money and treat yourself to some great chowder. Cheers!
1 yellow onion
2 medium carrots
3 celery stalks
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1 head of garlic
2 cups of heavy cream
32 ounces (4 cups) of vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
2 (6.5 oz.) cans of minced or chopped clams
1 pound of red potatoes
Making a Roux and Bechamel Sauce
1. Wash and peel the carrots and cut of the very tips and the wide bottom of the carrots.
2. Wash the celery stalks and cut off the very tips and the wide white bottom of the stalks.
3. Half the onion and remove top and bottom and the outer two layers of the onion.
4. Break open the garlic head and remove the “paper” from all the bulbs.
5. Wash the red potatoes.
6. Dice the carrots, celery, onion and garlic (a Vidalia, or Sharper Image dicer is perfect for this step; a real time saver).
7. In a large cooking pot, over medium heat, sauté the vegetables, with some salt and pepper, until translucent; it should take about 5-8 minutes—depending on if your range is electric or gas.
8. Scoop out the vegetable from the pot and make the roux.
9. Add the butter and the flour and cook (while stirring) the butter and flour until you have a “blonde” roux. You will need to have the heat at medium and constantly stir the flour and butter together for about 1 minute until it is cooked. (see picture)
10. Add the heavy cream to the roux; bring the pot to a boil. Stir constantly until the cream sauce (also known as a béchamel sauce) coats the back of a spoon (see picture).
11. Add the vegetable broth, the sautéed vegetables, bay leaves and clams to the pot.
12. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to low.
13. Dice the potatoes into 1 to ½ inch (bite sized pieces).
14. Add the potatoes to the chowder.
15. Simmer the chowder, covered, for about 45 minutes (check at 30 minutes) until the potatoes are cooked and soft (red potatoes keep their shape when cook).
16. Taste and re-season the chowder if needed. Remove bay leaves.
17. Top with parsley and serve with crunchy bread, sourdough bread, crackers, with hot sauce, or in a bread bowl.