the best clam chowder ever

 

Since the drop in temperature lately (hello ten degrees). I could think of nothing better then to cook a large pot of New England clam chowder (i’ve never tried to make it before). When we were little my grandfather (who was a sailor) made clam chowder when he spent time on his boat. He even had a special recipe box just for the boat (my mom still has it). It has at least five different New England clam chowder recipes, along with funny quotes and little facts about chowder. He sold the boat when I was pretty young, but I still have fond memories of his famous clam chowder.  As I have mentioned before everything my Granddad made we referred to as “the best I’ve ever had”. For Christmas I received a great cookbook (For Cod and Country, by Barton Seaver) which I pulled out, and there was a very good recipe for New England clam chowder. The recipe below is based on this, though I made some minor tweaks. My grandfather used celery which I don’t like. so I left it out. I also substituted salt pork for bacon. Though his recipe is almost identical to Barton Seavers. I thought this would be the perfect time to post a nice hearty New England chowder to keep your bellies warm. To me this is the perfect clam chowder, not to watery and not to thick, and so flavorful!I was able to find little necks at the local market.
littlenecks

Ingredients

12 chowder clams (the very large quahogs) or  24 smaller (littlenecks).
1 cup water
3 strips bacon
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 small russet patatos (skins on), cut into 1/2″ dice
3 cups half and half
oyster crackers for topping
Pepper to taste
Place clams in water in a large soup pot  and cover. Let cook over high heat until the clams open (discard ones that don’t open).  About eight minutes. Strain the liquid into a bowl to discard any sand  that has collected at the bottom. You need about 3 cups of broth, so if you don’t have enough, make up the difference with water. Reserve this broth. Remove the clams and chop up for soup.
Sauté the bacon in the pot over medium heat until crisp, then add the onion. Cook without stirring, until the onion is soft. Then add potatoes, clam meat, and reserved broth. Let simmer until the potatoes are soft, about ten minutes, then add the half and half. Bring to a simmer (but do not boil).
Remove the chowder from heat and let it sit for a few minutes, add crackers, serve. It says it serves 4, but that is 4 healthy portions (enough for a meal).
As for some of my favorite places to grab a bowl or cup, the number one place would be Woodmans in Essex, MA, but a close runner up is P.J’s in Wellfleet, MA. As they say in Massachusetts, this is some wicked good chowdah. Locally, West Shore Seafood in Bantam, CT (which is only opened seasonally) makes a pretty mean cup.
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