This is exactly what I want anytime I’m in a city that boasts both damp, chilly weather and a booming seafood market (so…all the time, seeing as how I live in Vancouver). It’s rich and creamy, comforting and luscious, while also somehow being quite easy to throw together. Who knew that bacon and cream were the magic keys to making all foods good (everyone, Maciel; everyone knew).
I’ll save my babbling of overly specific instructions for the Manhattan post, but let me just take a moment to mention that you could also successfully make this recipe with fresh clams should you be the type of person who is generally dissatisfied with shortcuts. In this case, you should use ~8 lb of cherrystone clams and bring them to a boil in 4 cups of water for 8-10 minutes. Extract and chop the meat from the (cooled) clams and reserve the cooking water, topping up as needed to equal 6 cups of liquid. Use in lieu of canned clams and clam juice/nectar. Omit the 2 cups cold water that get added in along with the potatoes. Also read the other clam chowder post for instructions around safely handling raw clams at home. Or take the shortcut. I honestly don’t care how you wind up consuming this as long as it gets into your waiting belly.
BA’s Best: New England Clam Chowder
Taken from BA’s Best arsenal, with some minor tweaking
1 tbsp unsalted butter
5 rashers of thick-cut bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 celery stalks, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
3 cups clam juice/nectar
2 ½ lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
3 tbsp cornstarch
2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
1 400-gr can good quality clams (chopped if whole)
Chopped chives and buttery crackers, for serving
Melt the butter in a large heavy pot (or Dutch oven) over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally until the fat has rendered and the pieces are golden-brown. Add the celery, onion, and garlic, then cook for another 10 minutes or so, until the onions are translucent. Pour in the clam juice along with 2 cups cold water, then stir in potatoes, thyme, and bay. Bring the chowder to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, ~20-25 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch with 3 tbsp cold water until smooth. Stir the cornstarch slurry into the chowder and return to a boil to thicken.
Lower the heat to barely a simmer and discard the bay leaf. Stir in the cream and clams, and taste to season. Turn off the heat and ladle the chowder into deep bowls with a sprinkling of chives and a crumbling of crackers over top. Would you rather eat it or sink into it like a hot bath? Tough call.