Sunday, January 4, 2009

New England Clam Chowder

Clam chowder = Christmas Eve in my family's history. This is one of the die-hard, unbending, every single Christmas Eve since I reached consciousness traditions in my family, and we love it. The original recipe comes from a small, well-used family cookbook (the interesting this is, it's not our family's book--it's some completely random family I've never heard of before, so thanks Minchey's). I particularly liked this year's versions where we had big chunks of baby red potatoes with the peels still on, red onions, big leaves of parsley, and the celery leaves thrown in there, too. It felt much more like a chunky stew, and I was a fan.

New England Clam Chowder

  • 2 pounds baby red potatoes, skins on, quartered
  • 2-3 stalks celery, leaves still attached, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 cans minced clams, 6.5 ounces each
  • up to 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3-4 sprigs coarsely-chopped parsley
  • about 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put potatoes, celery, onions, and garlic in a large pot. Pour the juice from the clams over, and then add enough chicken broth to just barely cover the vegetables. Bring the liquid to a boil and simmer until potatoes are tender.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan, then stir the flour to make a paste. Add the milk and stir until the flour mixture is dissolved. Add the flour/milk/butter mixture to the vegetables, then add the parsley and sugar. Add the cream, vinegar, and clams. Stir well. Heat, but don't boil or the clams will get tough and rubbery.

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