Well here I am, once again, months and months since my last post. I know that I haven’t been the most diligent bloggess in the world, but I’ve been busy. I know, right, haven’t we all? But I moved. Again. Just a few short months ago my family and I packed up all of our belongings, pointed our car northeast, and drove 2,000 miles to Boston, in what would become our fifth home in seven years. We had a good three year run in Texas, and although leaving the Lone Star State meant ditching some of our closest friends, forfeiting year-round summer weather, and giving up the weekly BBQ feasts that we had become accustomed to, we gained all of the things that we had been missing since we left the East Coast seven years ago – a convenient subway system (known as the “T” here in Beantown); four very distinct seasons; and most notably, fresh, local seafood. Seriously, I think seafood is the thing we were most excited about. I may be exaggerating here, but it was less than two hours after our arrival that we were tucking into bowls of clam chowder and slurping down briny oysters.
My first bowl of chowdah as a Bostonian – The Colonial Inn, Concord, MA
Oysters and martinis at The Omni Parker House in downtown Boston. The Parker House is home of the Parker House Roll and the original Boston Cream Pie (and maybe if you’re lucky I’ll post a few of these recipes. Someday. If I get around to it).
One of our favorite joints for all things seafood – also one of the oldest restaurants in America.
My sassy 6 year old enjoying the autumn weather in Boston Common.
After settling into our new digs and what felt like weeks and weeks of unpacking, I’ve finally made it back into the kitchen and behind my laptop to create some recipes to share with you. And what better way to get started than by honoring my new city with a wicked awesome chowdah!
New England Clam Chowdah
- 4-6 slices thick cut bacon
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 4-6 celery stalks, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 4 bottles (4 cups) clam juice
- 1 lb. unpeeled red new potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 4 (6.5 oz.) cans of minced clams, drained and liquid reserved
- ¼ – ½ cup dry sherry, to taste
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
- Worcestershire sauce, to taste
- Hot sauce, to taste
- Smoked paprika, to taste
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
- 2 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped (for serving)
In a large pot set over medium heat, cook bacon until fat is rendered and the bacon is brown and crispy; transfer to a paper towel to drain. Once cool, roughly chop the bacon and set aside.
In the same pot, sauté onion and celery in bacon fat until the vegetables are soft and slightly translucent. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes longer. Add flour, stirring into the vegetables until they are completely coated and flour starts to thicken, 2-3 minutes. Add the 4 bottles clam juice and reserved canning liquid to the pot along with the potatoes and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until potatoes are soft, about 20-25 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a separate pot, heat the heavy cream and minced clams over low heat until just simmering. Once the potatoes are soft, add cream/clam mixture to the soup pot along with the reserved bacon. Add ¼ cup of sherry, chopped thyme, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, smoked paprika, and salt & pepper to taste. Stir to combine and continue to simmer until chowder begins to thicken, about 10-20 minutes. Test for seasoning and add sherry, 1 Tbsp at a time, until you’ve reached your desired taste (I usually end up adding the full ½ cup, because, well, I like wine).
Ladle chowder into heated bowls and top with chopped parsley and fresh cracked black pepper.
Serve with oyster crackers and a warm loaf of sourdough bread for dipping.
Sidekick: For beer drinkers, Sam Adams Boston Lager or another New England craft beer is the most obvious beverage choice, and for the winos (read all the friends I left behind in Texas), I’d suggest a buttery-oaky California Chardonnay, a light Pinot Grigio, or a white Burgundy.