Monday, October 25, 2010

"Chill in the Air" Clam Chowder

(View from our backyard this week! Can you feel the autumn nip in the air?)

The first real chill in the air came to Colorado this week and with it, a hankering for good clam chowder, the sort we once tasted on our trip to Boston and Cape Cod a few years ago. There is nothing worse, to me, than a bowl of clam chowder that tastes like thick white gravy.... so I don't use any flour to thicken. Just pure cow's cream. We don't have clam chowder that often, and some things in this life simply call for heavy cream, no substitutes. This is one of them. This recipe is generous on the clams, as well. If you use small golden potatoes you don't need to peel them and they hold up very well in chowders.

However, I'm all about quick and easy, so I used some Ziploc steam bags to help speed up the process. Here's how I put it together:

In a Ziploc steaming bag place 2 peeled carrots & 4 -5 small golden potatoes (skin on)
Nuke 4 minutes, while you saute 1/4 onion and 2 stalks celery, diced, in a little olive oil until tender-crisp in a soup pot. (You can cover pan to speed cooking, since you don't need to brown these.)

Greg doesn't like the texture of onions & celery, so at this point I blended them with 1 c. vegetable broth into unrecognizable flavor:) For those who enjoy the texture of onions & celery, simply add 1. c. vegetable broth (or chicken broth), a minced garlic clove and 1 bay leaf to the pan. Simmer. It is okay for the broth to reduce by as much as a half, as there's plenty of liquid to come!

When carrots and potatoes are tender, let cool to touch, release from steam bag, then dice and add to vegies in broth. (Greg loves corn, so I also added about 1/2 cup frozen baby white and yellow corn at this point. Totally optional.) Continue to simmer and then...

Add 4 small cans chopped clams, with juice. (6.5 oz each, I used Snow's brand.)

Heat through, gently. (Clams can get tough with too much simmering.)

To this add 1 pint heavy cream. You may also want to add a little sherry or dash of white wine. Some recipes even call for a tad of scotch.

Season with sea salt and pepper to taste. I like a little heat so I used a dash of Tony's cajun seasoning as well (or dash of cayenne or Tabasco would also work). If you like a hint of sweetness, a little pinch of sugar is nice. Finally, remove bay leaf.

Serve with a nice crusty bread and salad or fresh fruit slices.

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