Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Our Christmas dinner was clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls... perfection! Even though it was the first time we'd attempted this chowder recipe, it turned out so well that I'm going to post it here for posterity (it also turns out to be really easy). It's based loosely on The Joy of Cooking's recipe.

4 6.5-oz. cans of clams (choose the brand lowest in salt [Snow's]; fresh clams must be very fresh to be worthwhile)
1 onion, diced
2 potatoes, chopped
3 Tbsp. flour
6 Tbsp. butter
1 bay leaf
1-2 tsp. ground black pepper
1-1 1/2 c. water
1-2 c. milk and/or cream

Drain the clams but reserve the juice. Melt 3 Tbsp. of butter in the bottom of your chowder pot. Sautee the clams and onions together in the butter for 5 min. or so, until softened. Thoroughly mix in the flour. Add the clam juice, the potatoes, a bay leaf, and season to taste with black pepper (i.e., estimate, as it probably doesn't taste that good yet). Add enough water to cover all the ingredients -- the clam juice plus water should be around 3 c. total. Simmer for 20 min. or so, stirring frequently, until the potatoes are softened, then remove the bay leaf. Stir in another 3 Tbsp. butter, then add milk and/or cream and warm it but don't let it boil. The idea is to make the taste and consistency right for you; I think I used something like 1/2 c. cream and 1 c. whole milk. More cream (or butter) will yield more flavor with less liquidity; more milk (especially lowfat milk) will make it more runny with less creamy flavor. More flour would also make it thicker, but it's too late to do that with this batch. In theory, one could add salt and pepper now to taste, but the salt from the clam juice and the butter was just the right amount for us.

Sourdough bread bowls might be the subject of a future post, but I'm sure that one could purchase them, as well. For now, I'll just say that they're the basic sourdough recipe from the book Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart, which I can't possibly recommend highly enough. It has been a life-changing book!

And above all, if you're going to have chowder, say it right: