Sunday, August 23, 2009

Grandma Elva's Clam Chowder

How my mother loved a good chowder! She was born in New Brunswick, and lived in Maine and Massachusetts before moving out west, so I guess she knew a thing or two about making one. Of course, she probably started out making her earlier versions from freshly shucked clams, but I remember her making do quite nicely with canned clams from our inland grocery store.

I don't seem to have my mom's directions written down, but I have watched her make it many times. This version from Allrecipes comes the closest.

4 slices bacon, diced
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups water
4 cups peeled and cubed potatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
ground black pepper to taste
3 cups half-and-half (half of this can be whole milk)
3 tablespoons butter
2 (10 ounce) cans minced clams

Place diced bacon in large stock pot over medium-high heat. Cook until almost crisp; add onions, and cook 5 minutes. Stir in water and potatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and cook uncovered for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.

Pour in half-and-half, and add butter. Drain clams, reserving clam liquid; stir clams and 1/2 of the clam liquid into the soup. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until heated through. Do not allow to boil.

**Now, here is where Grandma Elva added her own particular touch. After the chowder was heated through, she insisted that it should sit on the stove (off the heat) for at least an hour to develop its full flavor. Then she would carefully reheat it (no boiling, very important!) and serve it with oyster crackers. Common crackers, split and buttered, are wonderful, too.

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