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Old 10-04-2004, 08:38 PM   #1
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Big Al's Wicked Good Clam Chowder
Yields: 1 gal

This is one of those recipes that my family and I just die for. When it gets colder, I usually make this at least once a month.
You'll notice that I caramelize the bacon, then add the vegetables and seasonings, and caramelize those as well. The reason for this is added flavor. When the vegetables hit the pan, and they start exuding their liquid, they will deglaze the pan a bit. However, once that liquid is cooked off, they will start to caramelize slightly. I look for this point. I'm always scraping the pan bottom trying to work all the good flavor into the vegetables, and once it's gone, I start keeping an eye on the pan bottom to see when the onions start to caramelize a bit. When I start to see color again, I add the clams and juice to deglaze the pan again.
A couple other tips: Cut the bacon last. This lessens the chance of any cross-contamination from the bacon to other things. Also, I find it easier to chop bacon like this when it's frozen. And lastly, don't add any salt until the very end, and taste it first! Then, if it needs salt, add a little. Remember that you are using salt-cured bacon, and salt water shellfish, so there will be plenty of salt in the chowder without needing any more.

8 slices thick sliced bacon, diced fine
1 large onion, diced
1 c celery, diced
1 t Old Bay Seasoning, optional
t ground black pepper
1 t tarragon
1 t thyme
1 t garlic, minced
2 # sized potatoes, peeled, and cubed into half inch cubes
33 oz (total) canned chopped sea clams with the juice (around here, that's about 6 cans)
2 8 oz bottles of Clam Juice
1 pt heavy cream
1 pt half and half
c corn starch mixed with c water
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Fry the bacon in a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot over medium-high until the bacon starts to crisp, and you see lots of color and brown bits in the pan. At this time, add the onions, celery, garlic, pepper, thyme, tarragon, and Old Bay seasoning, if desired. When the onions are translucent and slightly caramelized, add the clams, juice, and potatoes; adding a little water if needed to cover the potatoes. Simmer over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the cream, half-and-half, and bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch/water slurry and bring back to a boil to tighten the chowder. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed.

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Old 03-06-2006, 02:05 PM   #2
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After a bit of searching, I found your recipe! (you mentioned it in that other thread about clam chowder and celery) Looks good. I don't eat bacon though - do you think it would be okay without the bacon and I just saute the veggies in some olive oil or butter?
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Old 03-06-2006, 02:06 PM   #3
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I'm sure it would be fine Grumblebee...
a little different from the above but still goooood!
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Old 03-06-2006, 03:40 PM   #4
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Butter would be your best bet.
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Old 03-06-2006, 04:26 PM   #5
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grumblebee do you not eat bacon as well as bacon fat or is it just the meat you do not want? if you can still use the bacon fat, but not include the bacon pieces that that would still work pretty well.

If you object to the fat as well then like pdswife said it would still be good, just different and like Allen said go with butter over the olive oil if you can.
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Old 03-06-2006, 04:44 PM   #6
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Butter is a good suggestion - and the well-caramelized vegetables will add TONS of flavor. I'd be tempted to start my potatoes cooking by caramelizing them too.

I wonder how just a drop or two of smoke flavoring would work? I'm not a fan of smoke flavoring because I do a lot of cooking on my smoker - but I know a lot of people who use that flavoring and love it.
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Old 03-06-2006, 10:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GB
grumblebee do you not eat bacon as well as bacon fat or is it just the meat you do not want? if you can still use the bacon fat, but not include the bacon pieces that that would still work pretty well.

If you object to the fat as well then like pdswife said it would still be good, just different and like Allen said go with butter over the olive oil if you can.
I dont eat any pork/beef/chicken (or lard or any "fats" from those animals) I do eat fish/seafood though.

Anyway, I think you guys are right about using butter. Olive oil might make it taste funny. And kitchenelf, your idea of using smoke flavouring is a good one. That would give it a slightly smokey "bacon" flavour without the actual bacon.
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Old 03-07-2006, 08:05 AM   #8
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I have had many amazing clam chowders without bacon. I am sure this one will work very well for you grumblebee. Let us know how it turns out.
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Old 03-07-2006, 09:34 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kitchenelf
I wonder how just a drop or two of smoke flavoring would work? I'm not a fan of smoke flavoring because I do a lot of cooking on my smoker - but I know a lot of people who use that flavoring and love it.
Why, WHY!?!? Must you torture me with more ideas of something to try

Actually, I'm not sure what a few drops of smoke flavoring would do, but, maybe sub one of the small cans of clams with a can a smoked clams?
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Old 03-07-2006, 09:37 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllenMI
maybe sub one of the small cans of clams with a can a smoked clams?
That sounds REALLY interesting!
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