A few weeks ago, a friend stopped by my office and offered me some freshly-dug quahogs. I gratefully accepted them and put my husband on the task of making some chowder.
He made the best chowder I've ever eaten. Here, in his words, is how he did it.
Scrub and rinse quahogs - I used 8 or 9.
Place in a large pot with a ½ cup to a cup of water. Steam until they open up.
Remove from the pot (reserve all the broth the quahogs were steamed in), let cool then remove quahogs from the shell and chop coarsely.
In a heavy bottomed pot cook 2 or 3 slices of bacon cut into bits. When done remove the bacon from the pot and save for later.
Sauté minced onion and celery in the bacon fat until soft. Add diced potatoes and the cooked bacon.. If you use small red or white potatoes you don’t need to peel them - your choice.
Add the broth (should be about a cup and a half) if you don’t have enough. add some bottled clam juice.
While the broth and vegetables are simmering make a roux. 2 or 3 tablespoons of butter and an equal amount of flour should be enough.
Whisk the roux into the simmering broth once the potatoes are done.
Add the chopped quahogs. I added some chopped parsley and ground pepper at this point. This is the chowder base and can be frozen at this point.
Final step, scald 1 and ½ cups of half a half in a small heavy saucepan - do not let it come to a boil.
I’ve seen recipes that use heavy cream instead - I find it to be too rich.
Add the half and half to the chowder base and it is ready to eat. Salt and pepper to taste. Some people serve chowder with a pat of butter in the bowl.
What's your favorite chowder recipe? Do you have a secret ingredient?