NEW ENGLAND-STYLE CLAM CHOWDER
WITH SPICY SEASONED OYSTER CRACKERS
6 to 8 servings
In honor of the New England Patriots, let’s have some New England Clam Chowder. I like my New England clam chowder with a little kick to it and lots of clams… so I’ve made some of the spices and herbs used in this recipe optional. For those who prefer the more traditional version of the chowder, omit the added spices and herbs.
- 4 to 5 slices bacon
- 2 medium to large onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 3 to 4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced,
- and immediately placed in ice cold water (with ice cubes) to prevent discoloration
- 2 to 3 medium to large ribs celery, coarsely chopped
- 1 to 1½ quart(s) (2 to 3 pints) freshly shucked chowder clams, coarsely chopped (reserve liquid),
- or 4 to 5 (6 ½-ounce) cans chopped clams, drained (reserve liquid)
- ½ fish bouillon cube (optional)
- Water as needed
- 2½ cups plus 2 tablespoons milk, divided (see note)
- 1½ cups light cream or half-and-half (see note)
- 1 tablespoon finely snipped fresh thyme (stems removed) or 1 teaspoon dried thyme (optional)
- 1 teaspoon seafood seasoning or to taste (optional) (see note)
- ½ to 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce or to taste (optional)
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon celery salt (optional)
- 3 to 4 drops hot pepper sauce or several grains cayenne pepper or to taste (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 to 2 tablespoons flour
- Saltine or oyster crackers or pilot biscuits or Spicy Seasoned Oyster Crackers as accompaniments
Pan-fry bacon in a medium heavy skillet over moderate heat until crisp. Drain and crumble bacon; set aside. Add onion to pan and sauté over moderate heat until tender but not brown. Drain onions and set aside. In a large heavy saucepan, combine drained potatoes, celery, fish bouillon cube, if desired, and just enough water to cover potatoes and celery. Cook, partially covered, over moderate heat for about 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are crisp tender. Do not overcook vegetables. Add crumbled bacon, onions, clams, and clam liquid. Stir in 2 ½ cups milk and cream. Add seasonings to taste. Reduce heat and simmer until fresh clams are just cooked and opaque in color, or canned clams are heated through. Do not overcook clams as they will become tough if overcooked. Vegetables should not be mushy.
If possible refrigerate chowder, covered, for 24 hours to develop flavors. Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons milk and flour, blending until smooth; stir mixture into chowder. Reheat chowder over low to moderate heat, stirring constantly, until chowder is bubbly hot and slightly thickened. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve with saltine or oyster crackers or pilot biscuits or Spicy Seasoned Oyster Crackers.
Note: May omit cream or half-and-half; use 4 cups milk or reduced-fat or skim milk.
Spicy Seasoned Oyster Crackers
- about 14 to 18 cups
- 1 (1-ounce) package salad dressing mix (see note)
- 1 cup salad oil
- ½ to 1 teaspoon seafood seasoning or to taste
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 22 to 25 ounces (about 14 to 18 cups) oyster-style crackers
In a large bowl, combine the first 4 ingredients, blending well. Add oyster crackers, tossing lightly to coat crackers evenly with oil mixture. Stir crackers every 30 minutes for several hours, or until mixture is absorbed by crackers. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. The crackers may be evenly spread in one layer in a 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pan just before serving and heated in a preheated moderate oven (350 degrees F.) for 8 to 10 minutes or until heated through.
Note: Use only original recipe Hidden Valley salad dressing mix to achieve desired flavor.