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Old 03-25-2013, 04:31 PM   #1
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How to make the best clam chowder?

New member here and looking forward to getting/sharing info.

I make a pretty good New England clam chowder but not as good as I'd like it to be, so looking for suggestions.

I use a common recipe starting with bacon, then flour, potatoes, onions, celery, clam juice, canned clams, cream etc.
I have used clams from a fish store also but I have heard canned clams are fine and I can't remember any big difference when using the real thing.
I have never actually cooked my own clams, but if that's a beneficial difference I certainly would.
So what am I missing?
Thanks,
Steve

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Old 03-25-2013, 04:51 PM   #2
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What exactly do you think could be better about it??

Anyway, chowder is very simple.

It goes: Cook minced bacon or salt pork till crispy. Remove. Add onion, cook until soft. Then add flour, mix it up with the onions. In go the potatoes and the clam broth and/or fish stock. Stir to make sure the flour is incorporated. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked. Mash up some of the potatoes to thicken. Add the cream, the bacon/pork and the clams.

I always use fresh clams. I think canned clams are nasty, sorry.

It does take an additional step to cook and chop the clams, but then you get better clam broth from that step.

Here is a pretty go-to recipe: Legal Seafood's New England Clam Chowder Recipe - Food.com - 78835

I use less flour than called for.
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Old 03-25-2013, 05:27 PM   #3
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So true Jennyma. Canned clams are so nasty for true clam chowder. I don't use flour in mine. I prefer to add extra potatoes and mash them to thicken it. I also don't like mine too thick. And I use heavy cream. It really add a creaminess that you just can't get any other way.

Fresh clams are the only way to go. Take it from an old New Englander. The definitive expert on New England chowders though is Jasper White. He uses only salt pork in his chowders and seafood stews. And no flour. He thickens his chowders the same as I do.

You should be able to buy clams in the shell at your supermarket. When you go to steam them, make sure every one is closed. Tap any open ones and if the fail to close, get rid of it. It is already dead. Place them in a pot with just a couple of inches of water. Place a lid on the pot and steam them from simmering point for only a couple of minutes or until all the clams are open. Once opened, they are cooked. If you cook them for too long, they will be very tough. If any fail to open, get rid of that one. Bad one. You don't want to take a chance on eating any dead or bad clams. You will regret it.

As soon as all the clams are open, remove from heat and remove clams from the shell trying to catch any liquid in the shells. Strain the broth in the pot through a cheese cloth or coffee filter. I happen to like the whole clam. Including the intestinal tract. Some folks don't. If you are of the former, then soak the clams in heavily salted water. In fresh water, they will drown and die. Leave for about eight hours. It will cause the clams to purge their innards of waste material. Then they are pure enough to include in any chowder. I like to leave them whole. Some like to chop them up.

If you really enjoy chowders head to your local library and find Jasper's cookbook on chowders. You won't be sorry.

And welcome to DC.
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Old 03-25-2013, 06:05 PM   #4
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This guy I knew used to make clam chowder using fresh clams. He would strain the juice through a pair of his wife's panty hose. Maybe that's the step you are missing
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Old 03-25-2013, 06:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pacanis View Post
This guy I knew used to make clam chowder using fresh clams. He would strain the juice through a pair of his wife's panty hose. Maybe that's the step you are missing
Good grief! I hope they were old not being used any more and washed a number of times before he got his hands on them. Why not just use a coffee filter? Doesn't every household have some of them hanging around? They are great at catching all the sand.
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Old 03-25-2013, 06:20 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Addie View Post
Good grief! I hope they were old not being used any more and washed a number of times before he got his hands on them. Why not just use a coffee filter? Doesn't every household have some of them hanging around? They are great at catching all the sand.
No, not every household had/has coffee filters hanging around. Especially back in the day of perculated coffee.
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Old 03-26-2013, 05:23 PM   #7
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Thumbs up

OK, next time it's steaming my own clams.
Thanks for the tips.
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Old 03-26-2013, 05:29 PM   #8
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OK, next time it's steaming my own clams.
Thanks for the tips.
Any problems, you know where we are. Don't knock, just walk in and we will always be here to help you.
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Old 03-26-2013, 05:35 PM   #9
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sometimes wearing panty hose, sometimes not...

you should check the dinner thread first.

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Old 03-26-2013, 08:28 PM   #10
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I got the strangest looks when buying 2 pair womens panty hose at a garage sale, and the best part is they were only a nickel a pair. (I forgot to look if there were high heels in my size that day. ) I use them cut off and clamp on the ends of the washing machine drain hoses. Perfect.

I have found grit in the bottom of canned clams even. I am careful when I pour out the juice and its ok if there's still a little left in the bottom. I am not a purist, I use Canned Clams.
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