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Old 07-28-2008, 05:14 PM   #1
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First time making clam chowder, any advice?

I am going to use the following recipe.

  • 3 (6.5 ounce) cans minced clams
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 cups cubed potatoes
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart half-and-half cream
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • ground black pepper to taste
I know it's a heart attack waiting to happen, but I'm only 22 and I do walk over seven miles a day

Any advice on things I should change, omit or add? I have a feeling milk should be in there somewhere....

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Old 07-28-2008, 05:35 PM   #2
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Red Wine Vinegar in New Engand Clam Chowder? Ok, that's a new one on me. And I've made a lot of chowder in my time. I'm not sure if I'd add that, but that's me. I'd have to taste the resulting product of your recipe first.

I always add milk, along with heavy cream, to my chowder. I also tighten mine with some cornstarch.

Don't add the clams until the very end. The clams are canned, so technically, they're already over-cooked. You just want to heat them up. If you cook them for a long time, they just turn into rubber.

Salt is the last thing to add. Taste the chowder first, then add salt as needed. Clams are a saltwater critter, so they will add their own saltiness to the dish. I also add bacon to my clam chowder, and that also adds salt to the dish.

Personally, I'm not crazy about carrots in NE Clam Chowder, but that's me. Again, I'd have to taste your product before making a decision as to how to modify it.

Basic rule of thumb that I try to follow whenever I'm making a new recipe:
-Always follow the recipe VERBATIM the first time. THEN, on the second time around making the recipe, tweak it.

This is why I love storing recipes on a computer. I can keep the original recipe, do a File>Save As and rename the recipe, then make notes and changes. Print this copy, and store until I make it the next time. Repeat, ad infinitum, until said recipe receives my stamp of approval. Sometime, it changes so much that a complete name change of the recipe is called for. Usually, after making 1 - 2 tweaks, I'll slap my name into the title somewhere.

Good luck with your recipe, and let us know how it turns out, and what changes you'd like to make!
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Old 07-28-2008, 05:46 PM   #3
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Sounds too hot and heavy for me at this time of year.
Plus 3/4 cup of butter sounds way too much.
I cook 3 pieces of cut up bacon, slowly, then remove bits.
Cook onion, celery and chopped clams in the bacon fat just until soft. (I use fresh clams, so I don't know when I'd add canned) (I don't use carrots either, but to each his own) And vinegar? What's that supposed to do?
Then proceed with the rest of the recipe. And 3/4 cup of flour sounds like alot to me too. Plus, it doesn't seem like very much liquid. I use 3 cups clam juice & 3 cups of milk.
When I add milk, I make sure it's hot, not boiling and add 3 TBSP of butter at that time, with bacon bits, simmer only about another 3 minutes, then serve.

I'm sure yours will be fine, so enjoy.
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Old 08-09-2008, 10:46 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buble View Post
I am going to use the following recipe.
3 (6.5 ounce) cans minced clams
1 cup minced onion
1 cup diced celery
2 cups cubed potatoes
1 cup diced carrots
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart half-and-half cream
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
ground black pepper to taste
_______________
I know it's a heart attack waiting to happen, but I'm only 22 and I do walk over seven miles a day. Any advice on things I should change, omit or add? I have a feeling milk should be in there somewhere....
It looks close to me but not exactly how I'd do it.
I'd take out some things and add others as I like to make it always to my own personal taste.
I wouldn't add the carrots, although I love carrots, they impart a certain distinctive flavor that I'd not personally want in mine. Also, the celery is necessary, but I'd bouquet garni it with butchers twine and let it add the flavor but not the contents of celery, don't like to bite into it.
The vinegar is okay, I'd probably use white balsamic [thanks KE] or white wine vinegar but no matter. To me, it would add the acid to the heavy creaminess needed, like buttermilk would do too. In mine, I [stir into the rue] 1 T fresh lemon juice and add a vegetable stock for the length of cooking time with the milk and cream coming in more at the end of the cooking time.
I'd use the highest quality canned clams I could afford, like a trusted brand. It's too pricey of a soup to down-qual.
Too much butter and too much flour regarding how I'd do it.
1/2 stick butter = amount flour.
I like a smidge of cayenne in mine, not to make it hot, just to give it a baby bite [or one more layer].
As much as I love 1/2 and 1/2, I'd use mostly 1% milk with 1/2 cup 1/2 and 1/2. Too much cream makes it so rich that it takes away from the clam flavor in my opinion. 1 T of finely chopped dill weed goes into mine too, like the flavor that dill weed adds to seafood.
My grammie always put in about 8 caraway seeds that she'd pound to powder. Picture that..............8, VERY SMALL AMOUNT. Powdered you couldn't bite into one, it just added a small umph to her CC. It may have been how they did it in Norway, don't know.

Post when you've done it. I am with QS on the time of year and me thinking of doing it now too. But, that's coming from someone who can't wait for cold weather so I can get to that cassoulet I can't wait to make.
Good luck, it's very easy to do a champion CC.
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Old 08-09-2008, 12:39 PM   #5
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Chowders traditionally start with bacon or salt pork, and then the aromatics: onion garlic celery. The heavy flour and cream is a recent addition. Chowder was poor man's food so milk is more common, and NE folks thicken with the crackers as they eat (Crown Pilot) but a little flour is called for in some recipes.

1 can of clams and the juice won't give you much flavor, so I'd use a bottle of clam juice in there too. Thyme and parsley are appropriate herbs.

So I start with the fat and aromatics, add the potatoes and clam juice and cook till tender, then add the flour and butter roux (just a little) and the milk, the herbs, adjust for salt and pepper and enjoy.

But there are as many chowders and there are cooks.
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Old 08-09-2008, 12:52 PM   #6
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I would definitely add bacon, as others have said. Just cube and cook.

I'm also hesitant about the red wine vinegar and carrots don't thrill me in there either.

My recipe calls for a stick of butter so I'm not going to disagree with the amount you have. It's clam chowder after all - rich and creamy!!!!

I also agree with the clam juice. I don't have my recipe available right now or I'd send it to you. I like my chowder chunky so I don't mind the diced celery and onion. Once it is cooked this is when I make my roux - I add flour to soak up butter/bacon grease, cook for about 3 minutes, then add broth and juice slowly, whisking. Just a different order than Robo.
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Old 08-09-2008, 01:06 PM   #7
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I don't use red wine vinegar or carrots, either, although sherry is used in crab and lobster chowder, so maybe that would be a good substitute. Robo, there are actually three cans of clams in the recipe. HTH.
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Old 08-09-2008, 03:09 PM   #8
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the cans, at least the kind I buy, I think Gortons, are small, like 3 1/2 oz each. he does state bigger ones though, so???

I like my clam chowder to be clammy, not smokey, so I don't want the flavor of bacon or ham or anything close in there. I do that for my potato chowder or corn chowder or Restaurant Quality stuffed baked potato chowder, but for sure, not clam chowder. This one may be more typical. Sorry to disagree but that's what floats the world.
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Old 08-09-2008, 03:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buble View Post
I am going to use the following recipe.

  • 3 (6.5 ounce) cans minced clams
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 cups cubed potatoes
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart half-and-half cream
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • ground black pepper to taste
I know it's a heart attack waiting to happen, but I'm only 22 and I do walk over seven miles a day

Any advice on things I should change, omit or add? I have a feeling milk should be in there somewhere....
I cannot imagine why there's any vinegar in the recipe. I've made and eaten many clam and fish chowders, and never one with any flavor approaching vinegar -- unless perhaps a red one? (that would be Manhattan chowder with tomatoes....)

Carrots? why in the world? Clam chowder is WHITE. and not with little orange flecks!

You don't need milk, since your recipe calls for half and half.... I usually use a combo of milk and cream. and I start with bacon or salt pork, rendering it. I also prefer fresh clams.

One reminder, whatever chowder you're making. Don't add the clams until the very end or they will overcook and take on the texture of pencil erasers.

Yikes! I guess I really didn't read it at all. I NEVER use flour. The potatoes thicken the chowder just fine. It's not supposed to be thick!

Bon Appétit!
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Old 08-10-2008, 01:11 AM   #10
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I don't know why I'm the only one thinking an acid in this soup isn't all that weird. I found 3 cookbooks at a store "Again" on my way home yesterday and it's a safe bet that all 3 have recipes for chowder. It's gonna be my mission to find one calling for acid, either lemon juice or vinegar.
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