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New England Clam Chowder Recipe by Gene
New England Clam Chowder by Gene
Preparation for My New England Clam Chowder
Did you know New England Clam Chowder has caused heated debate? When Rhode Islanders added tomatoes to this dish in the 1800s, it caused an uproar. New Englanders felt so strongly against the inclusion of this ingredient into their creamy soup that in 1939 a Maine Legislator introduced a bill to make it illegal. This recipe does not have tomatoes!!! If you must know, the recipe including tomatoes is now called "Manhattan Clam Chowder."
Clam chowder by Gene Munson Barry
Ingredients for New England Clam Chowder by Gene
- 4 slices bacon, diced
- 1 ½ cups clam juice, save after draining it from the canned of clams
- 4 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed (1/2 in)
- 3 tablespoons Butter, add to water
- 3/4 teaspoons Salt, add to salt substitute if you have high blood pressure
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup Heavy Cream, Whipping Cream
- 2 cups Half and half, Your favorite brand
- 3ea. 6.5 oz cans Clams, your favorite
- 1 tbsp dried basil, I Grow my own, or dried
- Red Pepper A few flakes, To your liking
- Cornstarch to thicken, mix with cold water
- Please find below the procedure (along with photos) I follow to make this New England Clam Chowder. If you want to use fresh clams, you should steam them and then chop the meat into quarter inch squares.
Directions with Illustrations
Please see below to see the steps for making this chowder with illustrations to help you through this recipe for New England clam chowder by Gene.
I keep my bacon frozen. This allows it to keep longer and it allows me to be able to slice it into quarter inch wide strips. It is easier to cut into small pieces when frozen. I cut cross-wise along the grain so that when I pan fry the bacon, it begins to melt and soften. The factory cuts separate and makes more small pieces. Cook your bacon but not too crispy. Pan fry it to just before it would turn hard.
I usually try to keep apple smoked bacon on hand as this is the kind of bacon that we like best. Maple smoked bacon also has a lot of flavor.
Prepare your potatoes
2. While the bacon is cooking, I begin peeling the potatoes in preparation to dicing. I use Idaho Russet (white) Potatoes. Any white potato would work in this recipe. I do like red potatoes but have never tried making this recipe with the red potatoes. You could use any sort of potatoes of your choice here.
3. Begin dicing the potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes. I usually dice them into a four cup glass measuring cup. This makes it much easier to know how many I have compared with how many the recipe calls for.
Boil the potatoes
4. Next place the four cups of diced potatoes into a large stock pot and then cover with water. I usually add more than the called for 4 cups, as I feel the extra adds to the recipin a good way.
5. Place the potatoes and water on the stove and turn on the burner to medium or high. I put a cover on the stock pot because it brings the potatoes to a boil sooner by not allowing the evaporating water to draw heat away thus cooling the water and it taking longer to boil. Potatoes cut this smaller pieces cook quickly. Stir occassionaly and keep the water level high so they don't burn. This size of diced potatoes cook quickly in boiling water.
6. Check that the potatoes have cooked to tender by stabbing a piece with a fork. Once the potatoes have cooked to fork tender, remove them from burner and drain through a colander in the sink. (Caution: Please be careful as you drain the boiling hot water as there will be steam that rises as you pour creating the posibility of burning your hands or arm).
7. Return the strained potato pieces to the stock pot. The stock pot is where you will add all the rest of the ingredients. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper and add butter so it will melt.
8. Add the clam juice that you saved from draining the clams. You want enough juice to make 3/4 cups. So add water if you need to make the total of 3/4 cups. Along with this you will be adding 3/4 cups of heavy cream.
9. Add heavy cream and half and half along with the clams to the stock pot. Bring the contents of the stock pot to medium heat but do not allow it to boil, (If the clams are boiled they will become tough and seem to be rubbery). Also if you allow the mixture to boil, you run the risk of the cream and heavy cream to curdling.
10. In a small bowl or mug, I mix cornstarch with cold water. This is the way many people thicken gravy so, if you have experience with that, you will understand how to do this. You are going to add this to the soup to thicken it to your taste. Just remember that cornstarch is a very effective thickener, and a little bit can go a long way. I have made the mistake of making the soup too thick, in which case I usually add a little whole milk, giving it time to blend in evenly. You will want to have the heat on low to make sure the mixture will accept the corn starch mixture. As you add the cornstarch, use a large spoon to stir the mixture constantly.
11. Now I add my home grown and dried basil and thyme. At the time that I dried these herbs, I used a small blender to chop them finely. Stir to blend the herbs in evenly. These are a little more dificult to blend in due to them being dried. Persistance will eventually win though. When you take a taste of the end product you will find the hassle was well worth the effort.
12. Add red pepper to taste (being careful as it gets very hot very quickly).
The flavor and density will increase in time if it lasts long enough to be refrigerated and eaten left over. If it has gotten too thick when leftover, I add a little whole milk as I am heating it up.
The famous Duke's Chowder House states that finding the balance of spices you like is essential to a good New England Clam Chowder......tweak the recipe to your taste. Also Duke's Chowder House says the soup is best if "cured" - refrigerated and served the next day.