Easy Clam Chowder
Why this recipe works:
If you’ve ever scrubbed, steamed, and shucked clams you know that it’s no quick process. And after all that work, the amount of actual clam meat is meager. For a chowder chock-full of clams, we’d have to rethink the process. We made a quick clam stock for cooking the potatoes, using a… read more
If you’ve ever scrubbed, steamed, and shucked clams you know that it’s no quick process. And after all that work, the amount of actual clam meat is meager. For a chowder chock-full of clams, we’d have to rethink the process. We made a quick clam stock for cooking the potatoes, using a combination of bottled clam juice and water. Instead of adding the usual heaps of cream for body, we kept the clam flavor clear and briny by going light on the cream and tightening up the chowder with crushed saltines and a small amount of mashed potatoes.
If you buy frozen clams, thaw them before using. You can substitute 9 Cook’s Country Common Crackers for the saltines.
- 4 slices bacon, chopped fine
- 1 onion, chopped fine
- 3 (8 ounce) bottles clam juice
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 20 saltines, crushed
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 pounds chopped clams, rinsed, drained, and chopped fine
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Salt and pepper
1. Cook bacon in large saucepan over medium heat until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel–lined plate. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from saucepan. Add onion and cook over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in clam juice, water, potatoes, saltines, thyme, and bay leaf and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
2. Using slotted spoon, transfer ½ cup potatoes to bowl and mash with potato masher until smooth. Return mashed potatoes to pot. Reduce heat to low. Stir clams into pot and simmer until cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with bacon. Serve.
For the right full-bodied, creamy chowder consistency, we tried adding flour (which made the chowder pasty) and extra cream (too rich). Several 19th-century recipes tipped us off to an old method: thickening the chowder with crushed crackers (and a little mashed potato). We tried it and found the technique well worth bringing back.