New England Clam Chowder

Usually, I have laser focus and epic multitasking abilities. And I am OCD with details. But lately my brain has just shut off.

Like running errands and leaving my phone to charge at home… as well as my credit card. I apologized to the cashier, then drove back home to get my credit card. Then I found out (from the same cashier) my credit card just expired. And that was my backup credit card since my main card expired the week before. And I don’t ever carry cash.

Or mortifying myself when I told my chief surgery resident I was done with my note and ready for him to evaluate me. When I opened it, I realized I smehow didn’t save it, so it was filled with typos and errors (um, missing the physical exam portion?). I wanted to curl and die when he joked about it being “terrible” in the nicest way possible.

Even cooking was no go. I was so psyched to make clam chowder; I ran to the store and got all the ingredients. Except … when I started cooking, I realized I had bought everything except the clams. It’s hard to make clam chowder without clams…

Well then. It’s just one of those weeks.

Chowder, once considered to be “poor man’s food,” is a seafood or vegetable stew served with milk / cream and often eaten with saltine crackers. Common ingredients include diced potatoes, onions, and celery which are occasionally sautéed in bacon or pork drippings. The term “chowder” may come from the French words calderia or chaudiere (caldron) or the English word jowter (a fish peddler).

Early chowders were quite different – they had no milk or potatoes and were simply fish stew thickened with biscuits. Seafood chowders were originally any fish, but clams chowders are more often see today. By the mid 1800s, several distinct regional chowders had developed, such as the New England clam chowder (contains milk/cream/flour for its white appearance and richness, and including tomatoes is heresy), Manhattan clam chowder (tomatoes rather than milk/cream and omitting potatoes), San Francisco New England Clam Chowder (served in the famous SF sourdough bread bowl), and so on. (source and source).

This is the New England style; it was originally supposed to be the SF version except my sourdough bread came out as flat as pancakes. I prefer lighter rather than thick, overly creamy soups, so I added milk rather than heavy cream and add more broth. Adapted from Cooking Light and Food Network’s Dave Lieberman.

New England Clam Chowder

1 lb bag frozen clams, undrained
4 bacon slices
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup cubed red potato
1/2 cup corn
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 bay leaves
3 parsley sprigs, plus additional to garnish
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cups whole milk (or half and half)
1/4 cup flour

Defrost clams if frozen and set aside.

Cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp in a large saucepan. Remove bacon, reserving drippings in pan. Crumble bacon; set aside.

Add garlic, onion, celery, and potatoes to the pan with bacon fat; sauté on medium heat until tender, about 5-8 minutes. Add corn, all the spices and herbs (thyme, pepper, bay leaves, paprika, and parsley). Add some chicken broth prevent burning if necessary. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10-15 minutes or until potato is tender.

Combine milk and flour, stirring with a whisk until smooth; add to pan along with the remaining chicken broth. Stir in clams and any juices. Cook 5 minutes, until clam shells open.

Serve with bacon. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.

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One Comment

  1. Life's going to have bad moments to make you appreciate the good and good moments so you're aware of the bad. It happens Chef! Keep medicine-ing and cooking and most importantly, smiling. It brightens up the world 😀