Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Hawthornes Make Clam Chowder.

There's nothing better than a hearty chowder to warm your innards on a cold winter's day.
Smooth and velvety with clam in every spoonful. Whenever the Hawthornes make something like a chowder, we just wing it. There is no recipe. It's some of this and some of that. There are no hard and fast rules. That being said, there's no reason for you not to jump right in and make a chowder. For a quick rundown on how to make chowder, you start with a fat. I used a combination of butter and oil, but if you like, you could start by frying up some diced bacon. Remove the bacon from the pan (Reserve for topping.) and use the grease with a little butter to saute your veggies for a minute. For the veggies, I used a carrot, an onion, celery, and potatoes. Next, you want to make a roux. I add in a little more butter at this point and about 2 TB of flour. Cook about two minutes over medium low. Then you add in your liquid, slowly, stirring until the chowder thickens. You could use a can of clam juice. You could use a homemade shrimp stock, which imparts a wonderful flavor to a chowder. You could even use a canned vegetable broth. Next add in the milk, the cream, and the clams. Let it cook over low heat until potatoes are just done. If you're using peas, add them at the very end just to heat through. If your chowder is too thick for your tastes, simply add in more liquid. My preference would be heavy cream. If your chowder isn't thick enough, you can easily fix that with a cornstarch slurry, which I'll show you how to do.
Mr. Hawthorne finely chopped an onion, a carrot, and a stalk of celery - about a cup each - and poured out a cup of frozen peas.
He peeled and diced 2 potatoes. Leave the potatoes in water until you're ready to use. The water keeps the potatoes from turning brown.
We keep our clams in the freezer. They'll expand and open up. If you want to use all canned clams, go right ahead. We're using both.
Just scrape the meat out.
Melt about 2 TB butter with 2 TB oil over medium heat, until butter is bubbly and add in onions, carrots, and celery.
Sweat the veggies for a minute.
Add in diced potatoes.
Mr. Hawthorne removed the clams from their shells, saving the likker, and chopped the little buggers up.
To thicken up the chowder, we're making a roux. Mr. Hawthorne added about 3 TB Shake and Blend flour. You can use regular all purpose flour. Cook about two minutes, stirring, to get the raw taste out of the flour.
Add in the clam likker.
Add in the liquid from a can of clams. Mr. Hawthorne wanted more clams for his chowder. He wanted his chowder very clammy, so he used a can of clams in addition to the frozen ones. When using canned clams, be sure to strain the clams to get rid of the grit. We use cheesecloth to remove the grit.
Next, Mr. Hawthorne added in the chopped clams and about 1 1/2 cups milk and about 1/2 cup heavy cream to enrich the chowder.
A little sherry never hurts. Cook over medium low heat until potatoes are just tender.
Add the frozen peas at the end. Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste. If your chowder isn't as thick as you want it ...
... add in a cornstarch slurry - equal amounts cornstarch and water. (Try starting with 2 TB each cornstarch and water.) Stir and heat until you get the desired consistency.
Clam in every spoonful. Lovely, smooth texture. Background hint of sherry. Comforting potatoes. Happy veggies.
Happy tummy.

No comments: