Sunday, February 12, 2012

Old Fashioned Clam Chowder

Sunday the 12th, was my son's 30th birthday. Imagine! Thirty years seems like a long time, but things have just rolled along until he's 30 and I am 61. Son of a gun! So naturally, there was a party. Son paged through the cookbook and found a dish that he would permit as the main course, chicken and dumplings. A week or so later, when we were discussing the guest list, he opted for pork loin and acted like he'd never heard of chicken and dumplings.
However, he did agree to clam chowder, which I may or may not have described as New England Clam Chowder. Be warned. This clam chowder is not New England Clam Chowder. He wasn't pleased.
"Why did you say it was New England Clam Chowder?" he demanded. Probaby because the page it is on had fallen out of the cookbook and been stuffed into the new edition of the cookbook, so I couldn't check it out ahead of time. However, New England or not, and even considering it contains the offending tomato, it is pretty good. I cut the recipe in half and even so, we had a ton left over. I sent some home with him and his wife, and we still have two containers in the freezer.
My husband went to great lengths to get things ready ahead of time so we could actually visit with the party guests. There also had to be much cleaning of rugs and floors as the dog continues to be an issue. Baby gates did improve that situation, even though they made me think of my sister, who had more dogs than anyone should ever have (12) and walled off the entire house with baby gates because the dogs fought.
His efforts were actually successful and we were able to sit by the fire and talk to the guests, Lin, my son's mother-in-law, and Alex, his brother-in-law. We had an almost catastrophe when Lin innocently inquired whether there was any shellfish in the soup. Luckily, Bob does not eat shellfish either, so there was some non shellfish soup lurking in the kitchen. Oh, yeah, I used canned clams. Perfectly acceptable. I also didn't thicken it with flour and butter, although I did put in the crackers. Pilot crackers, as I wrote in October, 2010, are not available anymore, except by mail. However, oyster crackers are the same thing and you can buy those at Safeway. It's hard to know what amount of oyster crackers to use, a cup maybe?

Old Fashioned Clam Chowder

60 to 72 chowder clams, scrubbed until water runs clear
1/2 pound salt pork, diced
6 large onions
4 to 6 leeks, cleaned and sliced
3 tomatoes peeled and chopped
2 cups canned tomatoes
3 ribs celery sliced
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
3 large potatoes peeled and diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
2 large pilot crackers, crumbled
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 to 4 teaspoons Tabasco sauce

1. Place the clams in a large kettle or clam steamer with one-half cup water. Steam the clams until they open, about ten minutes, depending on the size.
2. Reserve the broth. Remove clams from shells and remove the logn necks and coarse membrane. Chope half the clams, leaving remainign clams whole. Reserve.
3. Cook salt pork in a heavy kettle until golden. Add onions and leeks and saute until tender.

4. Measure the reserved broth and add water to make up to two quarts and add to the kettle. Add the chopped tomatoes, canned tomatoes, celery, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, potatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, about thirty to forty minutes.

5. Blend the flour with the butterand, while stirring, add a little at a time to the hot soup. Add the crackers, Worcestershire, Tabascp and reserved clams. Reheat and test for seasoning. Makes 15 to 20 servings.

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