Most fears we have are of the unknown and untried. Base jumping (to be more accurate base falling) into alligator infested waters is one. Not far behind is preparing clam chowder. Prepare first what youknow, then build on that. In other words try jumping (or falling) five hundred feet into a baby pool of gold-fish first.
Clam chowder is one of those foods you order at a restaurant or buy in a can. It is seldom homemade. There is no reason to fear making it at home. That is unless you have ostraconophobia ( fear of shell fish or ostracism – like who doesn’t) or ecophobia (fear of home or a bad economy). Nevertheless clam chowder is very simple. Clam chowder is just a stones throw from a simple cream gravy.
The first time I was schedule to prepare clam chowder panic set in. People can get down right mean if the chowder ain’t just right. Once the recipe was read and I realized how simple it was it became a snap.
I’m speaking of New England style and not Manhattan style. I don’t know of anyone who has ever eaten Manhattan style clam chowder. I’ve never seen it in a can or on a menu.
Here is my imaginary ordering of clam chowder in a restaurant.
“I”ll have a bowl of clam chowder.”
“New England or Manhattan style?”
“It doesn’t exist.”
A Meager Recipe for Two or One Hog.Dice a potato. Use one just a little larger than a baseball. Leave the skin on it (make sure you scrub it good, dummy).
What is done to the potato is up to you. Fry it, bake it, or boil it. When that’s done set it aside.
Saute a half cup of chopped onions in butter.
Drain the juice from a 6.5 ounce can of minced or chopped clams. Set the clam juice aside. Add the clams to the onion at the end of the cooking process. When everything comes to a sizzle again remove it from the heat. When clams are over cooked they become rubbery. Sprinkle a little flower in the clams and onions. Perhaps a teaspoon or two, enough to soak up the butter. Make sure it is stirred into a smooth paste.
Melt ¼ pound of butter and stir in flour until it is smooth paste. On a low flame slowly add the clam juice and a pint of milk. Add the potatoes, clams, and onions. Allow it to come to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Once it thickens get ready to chow down.
There are some variations to this recipe. Chopped celery equal to the amount of onions can be sautéed with the onions. A small can of sweet corn can be added near the end of the cooking process. Chopped bacon or ham can be added.
The thickness of the chowder may vary according to one’s preference. What I strive for is something like a milk shake.
By the way, before adding the flower, taste it to be certain it is not powdered sugar.