Thursday, March 1, 2012

Successful Recipes - Corn and Clam Chowder

since i'm still in the "let's do this!" mode with regards to making this blog readable i suppose i can fill you in on a few recipes i've had success with and i like. this one comes from The New England Table by Lora Brody and i've made this one several times because it is just that delicious. i'm hard pressed to find many recipes i make more than once even if i like them but this is a good one. This is not the thick, gloppy chowder that you might think of when you eat clam chowder out of a can, it's more delicate and sweet and brothy almost, but still creamy. i'll post a pic next time i make this.

Corn and Clam Chowder - serves 6 to 8

2lbs chopped clams, defrosted if previously frozen, with their liquid
4 ears sweet corn, defrosted if frozen, husked if fresh
6 cups (48 oz) whole milk
3 cups (24 oz) heavy cream
6 oz salt pork or bacon, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
2 Tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter
1 large onion, peeled and cut into small dice
2 stalks celery, with leaves, minced
3 Tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
3 large idaho potatoes (about 2.5lbs) peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf (italian) parsley leaves, minced
Butter and paprika for garnish
Oyster crackers, if desired

Drain the liquid from the clams and set aside. Combine the corn and milk in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Cover and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for five minutes, then turn off the heat and let the corn cool for a few minutes in the milk. Remove the corn to a cutting board and let it cool until it can be handled, then remove the kernels by running a sharp knife down the length of the cobs. (bon appetit has a neat trick for this by setting the corn cob pointy end in the center of a bundt pan and slicing downward, i just cut them in half so they have a flat surface to sit on upright since i don't have a bundt pan) Separate the kernels and set aside. Return the cobs to the pan with the milk and simmer for five more minutes to get as much flavor from them as possible. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove the corncobs. Discard the cobs. Add the cream and the clam liquid to the pot and reduce the heat to very low.

Place the salt pork or bacon in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently and pouring off and discarding any accumulated fat (or saving it to grease you pan in the morning for frying eggs!), until crisp, about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the onion and celery and saute until soft and slightly golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until light golden brown. Whisk in 1 cup of the hot milk mixture and then transfer the contents of the skillet to the pot with the remaining hot milk mixture. Whisk to combine.

Raise the heat under the milk mixture and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the potatoes and cook until just tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the clames, corn kernels, and thyme. Bring the chowder to a gentle simmer and cook until just heated throughout, about two minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and ladle into warmed bowls. Sprinkle with the parsley and top each with a pat of butter and a dusting of paprika. Pass the oyster crackers at the table.

Note: if you are using fresh clams you'll need about 9lbs. Place the clams and 2 cups of water in a large stockpot set over high heat. Cover, bring to a simmer, and cook until the clams open, about 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the clams to a bowl, discarding those that have not opened. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine mesh or cheesecloth-lined sieve and reserve. Take the clams out of their shells and chop them into 1/2-inch pieces. (i just get canned clams from trader joes, very affordable and quick)

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