Friday, November 20, 2009
Brian's Clam Chowder
I'm back from my honeymoon in Cancun and have lots of pictures. I'll get to that a little later. I don't know if you know this, but I Love Clam Chowder. I have since I was little. Not the red Manhattan style, but the creamy, buttery-rich New England kind. As far as I'm concerned it's the only kind.
I've sampled my share. Here in Oregon, most restaurants serve a version on Fridays. Mo's on the beach is often touted as the best chowder out there, but no way, Jose. It uses frozen potatoes. You can buy it as a mix. Disqualified. My favorite in Portland is at Salty's on the Columbia. It is thick and clam-by and buttery. I like it with oyster crackers.
The one that blows them all away is my husband's recipe. He used to be a professional cook, so it's probably a conglomoration of recipes he's used in different workplaces.
He made it for me last weekend. I paid attention and took lots of notes. However, like many soups, it is different every time, depending on time and what ingredients. The last time we used fresh clams; this time it was canned. We use tarragon, but you don't have to. Lemon juice will suffice when champagne vinegar isn't available. Etc.
One thing I learned from Mo's is that a pat of butter melting atop a steamy bowl of clam chowder is a must. Try it.
Brian's Clam Chowder (makes about 4-5 quarts)
3 yellow onions, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
7 stalks celery, chopped fine
2 shallots, sliced
1 head garlic, cloves sliced thin
6-8 oz bacon, diced
1 lb fingerling potatoes, in one inch chunks
1 cup vegetable stock
4 cans chopped clams (6.5 oz cans)
1 bottle clam nectar (8 fl. oz bottle)
10 oz. can whole clams
2 bunches green onions
1 cup heavy cream
4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons dried thyme
4 bay leaves
1 bunch Italian flat-leaf parsley
freshly ground pepper
pinch celery seed
juice from one lemon (or 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar)
In a large soup pot, head 1 teaspoon vegetable oil over medium heat. Add bacon and saute until fat is rendered. Drain fat and transfer bacon into another bowl and set aside.