Wednesday, October 30, 2013

New England Clam Chowder

I’m a little sad this month, even though October is my favorite month of the year.  Yes, I love the fall, and there’s no better place to embrace all that is autumn than that Foliage Fantasy Land: New England.  For years me and the wife made a point of pilgrimaging to that region--Maine, in particular, during the height of fall foliage colors in October.  But it wasn’t just the pretty colors that compelled us, fall is New England is just magical all around.  But, for various reasons, we’ve missed making that trip the last few Octobers, including this one.  Thus I am sad.  Fall in Texas is little more than a browning of the leaves, and it lacks that quaint, travel-back-in-time New England charm. 

An Autumn Road in Maine 

So, what to do?  Well, if I can’t be in New England, perhaps I can bring a bit of it to me, in the form of some delicious New England Style Clam Chowder. 

This is a thick, creamy, delicious dish that I always make a point to get a few bowls of when we visit Maine.   I first had this wonderful chowder (or chowdah, as they call it in Maine) at the Jameson Tavern in Freeport, Maine, and that’s the version I’ve tried to emulate in the recipe below.  

They wouldn’t budge on their recipe, but I gained a bit of inspiration from one of my old Culinary Arts Institute cookbooks from the 1950s.  

I tweaked the recipe just a bit and came up with the one below.  It was pretty close.  Give it a try, it just might make your autumn a little more bright and cheery. 

New England Clam Chowder

4 strips bacon, cut into matchsticks
2 tablespoons butter
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
½  cup leeks, minced, white part only
¼  cup green onions, minced
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups clam juice
4 cups chicken broth
2 6.5 oz cans chopped clams, liquid reserved
3 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon thyme
1 to 1.5 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
Dash of Worcestershire
Dash of Tabasco
Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
Oyster crackers

Cut the bacon into matchsticks and fry until crispy.  

While bacon is cooking, mince your onion, celery, leeks and green onions.  

When bacon is crispy, remove bacon and reserve.  

Add butter to pan.  

Once melted, sauté onion and celery until soft and translucent.  

Add green onions and leeks and sauté a few minutes longer.  Sift in flour...

...and cook over low heat, stirring, for two to three minutes.  Whisk in the clam juice, reserved clam liquid and chicken broth.  Let simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, scald the heavy cream and milk in a double boiler.  

This will not only bring it to temperature, so that it won’t curdle when you add it to the hot broth, but it caramelizes the milk sugars a bit, heightening the flavor of the chowder.  While this heats, dice your potatoes.  

When the cream has simmered for about 5 minutes, (but not boiled) add it, along with the potatoes, bay leaves, thyme, Worcestershire and Tabasco to the soup base and allow to simmer 20 to 30 minutes, until soup has thickened slightly and potatoes are tender.  

Add clams at the very end and cook an additional five minutes. 

Serve immediately with some parsley, the reserved bacon bits, and the oyster crackers. 

Until next time, Fall in love with Autumn, and this wonderful clam chowdah!



  1. I love the photos. Like seriously Maine has been calling my name. Thanks for sharing your recipes. I actually got here looking up some new ideas for gravy.

  2. Glad you enjoyed, foodluvbites. Thanks for stopping by!

    ~ Chris