New England Clam Chowder

Nothing pairs better with crisp fall days than a bowl of steaming New England clam chowder. Dating back to 1836 at the Union Oyster House in Boston, this famous chowder is pure comfort in a bowl.

Photo: Oceania Cruises

Ingredients

  • 7 pounds clams, preferably cherrystone, soaked and scrubbed
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 ounces bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1½ pounds waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • Chopped chives, for garnish

Preparation

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, combine the clams and water and bring to a simmer. Cover and steam until the clams open, about 10 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the clams to a work surface and remove the meat from the open shells, discarding any shells that did not open. Coarsely chop the meat and reserve. Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth into a large bowl. Add water if needed to make 6 cups of stock. Reserve.

Rinse and dry the stockpot and place over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer onto paper towels to drain.

Increase the heat to medium-high and add the butter, thyme, bay leaf, onion and celery. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 more minutes. Slowly stir in the stock. Add the potatoes and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to medium and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Add the clam meat and cream and cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Discard the thyme and bay leaf. Stir in the sherry and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve in bowls topped with the bacon and chives.

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