My Dad has had clam chowder in Maine, Massachusetts, Alaska, and lots of other places and he said that of all the clam chowders he has had, this was his favorite – the best clam chowder ever. Even my husband, who is not a fan of clams and seafood, devoured this! You will love how creamy and fresh it is. Because you steam your own clams you don’t get that nasty clammy aluminum taste (you know what I’m talking about).
Before making this recipe, here are a few tips on steaming clams:
When you steam the clams yourself, they are as fresh as they would be if you were steaming them in New England. Steam your own clams every time! The clams are still alive when you throw them in the pot… they haven’t been dead for months in an aluminum can.
If you have never steamed clams before, here is how you do it:
1/4 c. water
1/2 c. chicken broth
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2-3 Lbs. clams (rinse them off really good, then put them in a bowl with salt water in the fridge for a while)
Bring first three ingredients to a boil. Add clams, cover with a lid, then steam until all the clam shells open up (about 5-10 minutes). Do not over cook. Remove from heat, drain... and that's it!
3/4 c. butter, melted
1 c. flour
1 c. celery, finely diced
1 c. onions, finely diced
1 c. leeks, finely diced
3-4 cups red potatoes, diced (we use about 3 c. because we like it nice and thick, if you like a thinner clam chowder use less)
3/4 c. clams, shelled & chopped (use FRESH clams and steam them yourself)
3/4 Tbsp. FRESH ground black pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp. salt (use KOSHER salt, not table salt)
3/4 Tbsp. whole thyme
6 bay leaves
4 shakes Tabasco sauce
3 c. chicken broth
3/4 c. clam juice
2 quarts half & half
Combine melted butter and flour in a glass baking dish and bake at 325 for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and crumbly. In a large skillet, soften celery, onion, and leeks in a little butter or oil for about 3-5 minutes or until soft and slightly transparent. Remove from heat and place in a large pot with remaining ingredients EXCEPT half & half and butter-flour mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through and no longer crunchy in the middle.
Stir in butter-flour mixture into chowder and stir until thick. Mixture will be slightly less thick than cookie dough. Remove chowder from heat and stir in half & half until blended and smooth.
Heat to serving temperature (do not bring to a boil), stirring occasionally. It should be creamy and smooth. Add salt & pepper for extra flavor.