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Recipe: New England Clam Chowder

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New England Clam Chowder is a perfect way to wind down after a day of sightseeing in Canada and New England.

Chowder is widely recognized as French in origin, but New England Clam Chowder is all American. Historically made to satisfy fisherman and their families after a long day at sea, this dish is now found on menus all over. It is so beloved by New Englanders that Herman Melville dedicated a whole chapter of Moby Dick to chowder, and American Author Joseph C. Lincoln wrote, “A New England clam chowder, made as it should be, is a dish to preach about, to chant praises and sing hymns and burn incense before. To fight for. The Battle of Bunker Hill was fought for–or on–clam chowder.”

HAL guest Sharon Johnson recently sailed through New England and Canada on Maasdam and shared these photos from an “On Location” demonstration by Show Chef Daniel and Culinary Arts Hostess Lauren in the Culinary Arts Center on how to prepare this iconic soup:

New England Clam Chowder Recipe

Yield: 1 1/2 quarts

Ingredients:

4 Littleneck clams, washed well
1 cup water
1 oz sliced bacon, in 1/4 inch pieces
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1 yellow onion, diced
2 small celery stalks (white inner part)
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 whole red bliss potato, unpeeled and squared off and quartered
2 cups half and half
1 cup milk
Cheese cloth or muslin for straining broth

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Instructions:

First, inspect the clams. If any are cracked or broken, discard. If any appear to be opening put pressure on the clam to see if it will close. If it does then it is still alive and good for cooking. If it does not respond to the pressure, discard. Put the clams and water in a large pot, cover, and place over high heat. Cook until the clams have opened, about 5 minutes or so.

Remove the clams from the pot using a slotted spoon and place them into a bowl. Discard any clams that did not open and set aside and allow to cool. Strain the remaining broth through a double layer of cheesecloth or muslin to remove any remaining sand. After strained, you will need 2 cups of clam broth. If you do not have 2 cups of clam broth, make up the difference with water or very mild chicken broth. Depending on the clams, release a different amount of liquid. Sometimes you will have over 2 cups, sometimes under 2 cups. Set aside.

In a large stockpot over medium heat, fry the bacon until crisp. Once crisp, remove the bacon and place on paper towels to drain. Over medium heat add the butter to the remaining bacon drippings in the pot. Add in the onion, celery and thyme. Continue to cook until the onions become translucent, taking care not to let them brown. Now add the flour (to create a roux). Continue stirring over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and the butter. Remove from heat and stir in clams, half and half and milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Set aside for one hour to allow the flavors to marry. Reheat over low heat and garnish with fresh thyme.

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