One of my favorite breakfasts while in high school was: a tall cup of coffee (black), a chocolate éclair, and a large bowl of clam chowder. I used to stop by the local Winchell’s to get this daily staple. That’s a breakfast of champions. I’m still a strong believer in breakfast being the biggest meal of the day.
When Winchell’s wasn’t accessible to me I switched to Campbell’s canned clam chowder. I’ve tried a variety of different canned versions of clam chowder and I find that the Cambell’s version ranks up there. (not the healthy one).
I’ve progressed passed the can and make the real thing whenever possible. You’ll always have more control over the ingredients when you make it yourself. Clam chowder isn’t a hard recipe at all. Here’s a simple one I found on the net
- 3 slices bacon, diced
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3 cups diced potatoes
- 1 bottle (8 ounces) clam juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cans (approximately 7 ounces each) minced clams
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 1 cup milk
Cook bacon until crisp in a Dutch oven or large, heavy saucepan. Remove bacon to paper towels with slotted spoon; drain. Add onion to bacon drippings; sauté until softened. Add potatoes and clam juice, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Remove from heat. Add minced clams with their liquid. Whisk flour into milk; add to chowder with half-and-half. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until clam chowder thickens and bubbles, or about 3 minutes.
This will give you the basic chowder and you just need to add some ingredients to make the different versions out there. I tend to stay away from the recipes with cornstarch because I believe in thickening the chowder with flour, potatoes, and cream.
I like to use fresh clams when possible. Since the above recipe was made with canned clams I’ll give you a recipe for one using fresh clams and I’ll double the portions (because clam chowder is always good the next day).
Edel’s Ultimate Clam Chowder Recipe
- 1 pound of bacon (I’ll explain later)
- 2 cups chopped white onion
- 4 large potatoes or 7-8 cups when cubed
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups milk
- 32 clams
- 3 cups of clam broth
- 6 tablespoons flour
- 6 tablespoons of bacon fat
- 2 dry bay leaves
- Fry the bacon in a French oven until crispy. Mince about 8 slices of crispy bacon and save the rest for you or a BLT.
- While the bacon is frying, in another pot, steam the clams in about 3 cups of water. Remove the clams as they open. Take 16 of the clams and dice the meat. Keep the other clams whole for presentation (you can do this a day in advance). Keep the clam broth we’ll need it in a few steps.
- Leave about 3 tablespoons of bacon fat in the French oven. Don’t throw away the rest of the bacon fat just yet.
- Over medium heat, add onions to the pot and sauté them until they are clear and softened.
- Add potatoes, clam broth, bay leaves, and pepper.
- Cover and let simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
- Reduce heat to low.
- In a third pot over medium heat, add the 6 tablespoons of bacon fat. After the fat is heated, add the 6 tablespoons of bacon fat. Guess what, we’re going to make a simple roux.
- Mix the flour and bacon fat mixture. You’ll go from a thick cake like batter to an oil and flour soupy mix (this will take about 5 minutes). Then after a few more minutes it will go back to a wet dough consistency (2-3 minutes). The idea is that you want to cook some of the flour to get the taste out.
- Add the milk, heavy cream, and roux to the potato and clam broth. Increase heat to medium.
- Cook until the mixture thickens.
- Remove from heat and add the minced clams. Remove the bay leaves at this point too.
- Add the whole clams to the individual bowls for presentation.
- Sprinkle some parsley and minced bacon. I usually leave the bacon bits on the side for people to add their own.
Notes: Some people add celery while sweating the onions. If you like celery, add about 1 cup of dice celery. I love all types of clams. When writing this recipe I had Cherrystone clams in mind. You can also use steamers. Oh, clams. The idea for the number of clams is how much you really want to serve people. In this case, I said the serving size is 8. In my mind I think that each person should get at least 4 clams in the bowl.