January 21st is New England Clam Chowder Day.
Chowder is a seafood or vegetable stew often served with crackers. Clam chowder has the addition of clams. There are many varieties: Manhattan (tomato-based), Hatteras (clear broth), Minorcan (spicy tomato broth), to name a few.
Then there is the most well-known of the chowders, New England style. It has a milk-cream base with chunks of clams and potatoes. It is served with oyster crackers. The crackers are often added to the soup to thicken it.
The chowder may be thin or thick depending on where it is served. There is a debate on the how thick it should be–or rather that it shouldn’t be thick at all. Bacon is considered an iffy ingredient for “true” New England style but may allow salt pork.
Order some New England Clam Chowder for lunch or make a batch of homemade chowder for dinner!
New England Clam Chowder
Serve with oyster or saltine crackers. If you can get fresh clams in your area, opt for that and omit the clam juice. Make sure to use a russet potato so the starches release into the broth.
4 slices bacon, diced
1-1/2 cups chopped onion
1-1/2 cups water
4 cups peeled and cubed russet potatoes
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
black pepper to taste
3 cups half-and-half (don’t substitute milk or heavy cream)
3 tablespoons butter
2, 10 oz. cans minced clams
fresh cracked black pepper
Cook bacon in a stock pot until almost crisp, then add onions, and saute 5-6 minutes. Stir in water and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cook uncovered 15 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender. Stir in half-and-half, then the butter. Drain clams, reserving the liquid. Stir in clams and 1/2 of the reserved liquid into the soup. Cook until heated, about 5 minutes. Do not boil. Serve topped with freshly cracked pepper.photo courtesy of Jon Sullivan, wikipedia