Creamy Boston clam chowder is a fantastic dish that is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. While there are many variations to choose from, your family will love this recipe from celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse.
This is a hearty clam chowder that is flavored with bacon, leeks, onions, and potatoes to kick up the starch quotient. That is the perfect background for the freshly shucked littleneck clams. If you haven't made a clam chowder at home before, don't worry. It's easy to execute and the recipe will pack some star power into your recipe book.
- 1/2 pound bacon (medium diced)
- 1 cup chopped leeks (about 1 pound)
- 1 cup yellow onions (chopped)
- 1/2 cup celery (chopped)
- 1 carrot (peeled and diced)
- 1 dash salt
- 1 dash pepper
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (chopped)
- 1/2 cup flour (all-purpose)
- 1 pound white potatoes (peeled and medium-diced)
- 4 cups clam juice
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 pounds littleneck clams (shucked and chopped)
- 2 tablespoons parsley (finely chopped)
- In a heavy stockpot over medium-high heat, render the bacon until crispy (about 8 minutes).
- Stir in the leeks, onions, celery, and carrots. Sauté for about 2 minutes or until the vegetables begin to wilt.
- Season the vegetables with salt and pepper. Add the bay leaves and thyme. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes
- Add the potatoes. Stir in the clam juice. Bring the liquid up to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
- Simmer the mixture until the potatoes are fork tender (about 12 minutes). Add the heavy cream and bring up to a simmer.
- Add the clams and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.
- Ladle into shallow bowls and serve.
If you have any leftover chowder, store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Be sure to eat it within a day. With any cooked clam dish, don't freeze it because the clams will get very tough.
Tips for Preparing Fresh Clams
Fresh clams really do make the best clam chowder. If you have not worked with them before they can seem intimidating. It's not a difficult process, though, especially if you know a few tricks to preparing fresh clams.
- Scrub each clamshell with a brush to remove any sand and dirt.
- Force the clams to purge any sand they might have inside by covering them with salt water for a few hours.
- To make shucking the clams a little easier, freeze them for about 15 minutes. Then, let them rest at room temperature for a few minutes before trying to open them.
- The clam juice (or liquor, as it's often called) can be saved while you're shucking. Simply shuck over a bowl to capture the liquor and use it in the chowder.
Another option is to look for clams that are already shucked at the seafood counter. It's likely that you'll pay a little more for the convenience, but it might be worth it for a quick meal on a busy weeknight.
Source: "Emeril's TV Dinners" by Emeril Lagasse (William Morrow & Co.), reprinted with permission.