New England Clam Chowder

I’m busy, take me to the short version

Having grown up on the Boston area, I remember eating clam chowder since I was a kid. At home my mother always made fish chowder which was a milk based chowder and much thinner than the current versions of clam chowder. So when I make clam chowder I find I prefer a medium to thin chowder. But that’s the interesting thing about most foods, including New England Clam Chowder, you can always change it to make it your own. Start with the Clam Chowder recipe below and later we will explore 8 Steps to Creating Your Recipe for New England Clam Chowder.

Boston Harbor Chowderfest

Boston Harbor Chowderfest

New England Clam Chowder is a staple of all Boston seafood restaurants as well as most bars and pretty much every other type of restaurant in New England. A couple of my favorites are Durgin Park and Sam LaGrassa’s. Durgin Park probably because my grandfather first took me there many years ago and it was clam chowder and fried clams which will always be favorites. Their chowder is a medium thickness with a pretty traditional flavor.

Sam LaGrassa’s is actually more known as a sandwich shop that serves Boston’s business folks some of the best pastrami around. It was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and clam chowder was one of the featured dishes. It is a much thinner chowder, more reminiscent of fish chowder, with a very herby taste. I think it is one of those that either you really like or you prefer the more milky flavor of “traditional” chowder. I would actually consider this more traditional than most of the chowders being served around the area.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 3 oz. Salt Pork in 1/4″ to 3/8″ dice
  • 1 c chopped onion
  • 2/3 c chopped celery
  • 1/2 t white pepper
  • 1/2 t salt (Note: If using homemade broth from steamed clams, add salt at the end if necessary)
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 – 2 T flour, or as needed
  • 3 c potatoes, 1/2″ dice
  • 24 oz. good quality clam juice or homemade broth
  • 10 – 12 oz chopped clams (6-8 lbs cherrystones)
  • 2 c half and half
  • 1 – 2 t fresh thyme, chopped

Directions

  1. First decide what you want to use for chopped clams and broth. If you are steaming clams check out 8 Things to Consider When Steaming Hard Shell Clams in the Techniques section. If you are using canned clams and bottled broth make sure that is on hand and we will proceed.
  2. Bar Harbor Bottled Clam Juice

    Bar Harbor Bottled Clam Juice

    Steamed and Commercial Clams

    Steamed and Commercial Clams

  3. Saute the salt pork until crispy like bacon. Remove the salt pork to drain on paper towels and reserve, leaving the fat in the pot.
  4. Artisan Salt Pork in Package

    Artisan Salt Pork in Package

    Cutting Up Salt Pork

    Cutting Up Salt Pork

    Add Salt Pork Cubes to Medium Hot Pan

    Add Salt Pork Cubes to Medium Hot Pan

    Frying Salt Pork Cubes

    Frying Salt Pork Cubes

    Drain Salt Pork Cubes on Paper Towels

    Drain Salt Pork Cubes on Paper Towels

  5. Add the onion, celery, white pepper and salt (if using) to the rendered fat and cook until translucent. Add the butter and stir until melted. Add just enough flour to absorb the fat and cook for a minute or two, stirring often. Regarding the amount of flour to use, we are not trying to thicken the chowder here but we do want to absorb the fat used to saute the vegetables so we don’t have pools of liquid fat floating on top of our chowder.
  6. Chopped Onion and Celery

    Chopped Onion and Celery

    Sautee the Onion and Celery until Translucent

    Sautee the Onion and Celery until Translucent

    Add Enough Flour to the Vegetables to Soak Up the Fat

    Add Enough Flour to the Vegetables to Soak Up the Fat

  7. Add the potatoes, clam juice and thyme bring to a light boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are cooked the way you like them.
  8. Adding the Potatoes and Clam Juice

    Adding the Potatoes and Clam Juice

  9. Add the half and half and the clams and heat through, but do not bring to a boil. Test for seasoning and add if necessary.
  10. Add the Half & Half to the Pot

    Add the Half & Half to the Pot

  11. Serve hot with the crispy salt pork pieces and oyster crackers.
  12. Bowl of Clam Chowder with Oyster Crackers and Fried Salt Pork Bits

    Bowl of Clam Chowder with Oyster Crackers and Fried Salt Pork Bits

Recipe Yield: Serves 4-6

Cuisine Type: American, New England

Category: Soups, Chowders

Total Time: 2 Hours

Print this recipe

Click here to see 8 Steps to Creating Your Recipe for New England Clam Chowder

Looking forward to hearing from you:

I'm very glad you have chosen to share your thoughts. (All comments are moderated)

Please enter your name so people will know which comments are yours. You can use your real name or pick a user name if you prefer. To subscribe to our newsletter, enter your email address. And we never share any of your information with anyone, ever.