Anatoli wrote an interesting article about clam chowder on his great wine blog Talk-A-Vino. He explains that chowder is “a rich soup typically containing fish, clams, or corn with potatoes and onions” and that there are four types of clam chowder:
- New England Clam Chowder, with cream
- Manhattan Clam Chowder, with tomatoes
- Rhode Island Clam Chowder, clear
- Long Island Clam Chowder, with cream and tomatoes
Although I don’t remember ever having eaten clam chowder, it sounded like something we would enjoy. And so I researched the internet for recipes of the most classic version, New England Clam Chowder. I tried to keep it as simple as possible, and of course I used fresh ingredients only. The resulting chowder was delicious. Here’s what I did…
For 2 servings
1 kg (2.2 lbs) clams
20 grams (2 slices) bacon
200 grams (.5 lb) potatoes
70 grams celery (1 stick)
70 grams onion (1/2 onion)
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
salt and freshly ground white pepper
125 ml (1/2 cup) half-and-half, light cream, or half milk/half cream
25 grams (2 Tbsp) butter
25 grams (2 Tbsp) flour
Soak the clams in water as salty as the sea (30 grams or 4 tsp of salt in a litre/quart of water) to remove any sand, then rinse them and put them in a large saucepan with 250 ml (1 cup) of water.
Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.
Cook only as long as needed for the clams to open, then turn off the heat.
Drain the clams, catching the liquid.
Filter the liquid with a fine sieve.
You will need 500 ml (2 cups) of clam juice. If it is less, add as much water as needed.
Dice the celery, onion, and potato.
Cook the bacon between sheets of kitchen paper in the microwave until the fat has rendered, then allow to cool and crisp up.
Melt 25 grams (2 Tbsp) of butter in a large saucepan. Add the celery and onion and stir for a couple of minutes over medium heat. Do not allow the vegetables to brown as that will ruin the nice white color.
Add a tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves.
Add 25 grams (2 Tbsp) of flour.
Stir for a minute.
Add 500 ml (2 cups) of clam juice.
Add the potatoes and bring to a boil. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Taste and add salt only as needed, as the clam juice is already quite salty.
Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, take the clam meat out of the shells. You should end up with about 200 grams of clam meat (so a yield of 20%).
Check whether the potatoes are cooked, then reduce the heat to low.
Add the clam meat, stir to incorporate, and cook for a minute or so over low heat until the clam meat has been warmed through.
Add 125 ml (1/2 cup) of light cream, half-and-half, or half milk and half cream.
Allow to warm through over low heat, do now allow to boil. Taste and adjust the seasoning one final time with salt and freshly ground white pepper.
Serve in bowls and crumble the bacon on top.
This creamy shellfish soup is great with a chardonnay from Burgundy. Meursault, Chablis, Chassagne-Montrachet or Puligny-Montrachet could all work, but it depends on the producer and vintage. The wine should be creamy and not too high in acidity, preferably with a nice minerality to it.
Pappardelle al ragù di Cinghiale is a classic pasta dish from Tuscany that is perfect for autumn: fresh wide ribbons of pasta with a wild boar and tomato sauce.