I had made New England clam chowder once before in the crock sometime last year. I wanted to give it another try since I not only hadn’t been blogging at the time – doing it again would allow me to take picture and share it, but also so I could make some adjustments.
The recipe I used the first time was very basic and quite frankly a total cheater recipe. I hadn’t thought much about that at the time, but looking back I realize just how much of a fake recipe that was. It called for canned everything. I kid you not. I don’t complain about prepackaged ingredients if it’s a few per recipe, but that one called for canned soup, canned cream of this and that. You’d certainly expect the outcome to be at least relatively flavorful since you’re using items that a company has already prepared for you, and it was but it still wasn’t homemade. I get satisfaction out of knowing I can make something myself. I’m not talking milk a cow and make my own cream, or anything along those lines… just making something with a little bit more love. The other downside to that early recipe was the lack of thickness. Clam chowder or at least the New England variety is suppose to be thick and creamy. The other clam chowder some may be familiar with is Manhattan clam chowder, that is not as thick and calls for tomatoes among other things. They have few similarities and in the overall picture are drastically different.
I decided to poke around and get an idea for what recipes were calling for so I could decide my plan of action. Lots of potatoes, veggies and other wonderful flavorings. In the end, this variety not only was much thicker and creamier but it was also mostly much more from scratch… outside of me catching the clams, growing the veggies, making my cream etc. Sure it’s store bought items but they didn’t all come from cans which made me happy. I only share recipes I think are worth sharing and that I think someone else may love but believe me when I say, this is a winner in the world of clam chowder. If you are a fan of it, you should definitely try this easy slow cooker recipe. It’s thick and creamy just like New England clam chowder should be and has an wonderful flavor. Not one part is too over powering, everything works just right with eachother.
And for those with cats, if you don’t normally have kitchen visitors while cooking… you will while making this. Normally my cat (the one of two that we actually see) doesn’t hang out a ton with me in the kitchen but he was stalking my ingredients the entire time… begging for a taste. It was rather comical. He didn’t even care when our one year old was trying to give him hugs.
Yield: Makes roughly 6 good sized portions.
Cook Time: 5-10 hours
4 1/2 C potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic
1 C onion
1/2 C celery
*4: 6oz cans clams (see notes)
*1: 8oz bottle clam juice (see notes)
1 tsp salt
1/2 - 1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
1/4 C flour
3 1/4 C half and half
5-6 slices of bacon
1/2 tbsp bacon grease
Prepare veggies: peel and chop potatoes into small bite site pieces - add to crock. Chop onion, slice celery down the center lengthwise and then chop into small pieces, and finally mince 1 teaspoon worth of garlic. Take 5-6 slices of bacon, if you are using fatty bacon slice off the ends if they are extremely fatty and discard. Cut up bacon slices into small pieces by either slicing lengthwise in half or into thirds and then into small pieces.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet. Carefully add garlic, onion and celery. Sprinkle with thyme and red pepper flakes (if using). Cook, stirring frequently until heated through and very tender. The onions will be translucent and shiny. Transfer veggies to crock.
Drain clams (2 if using canned juice, 4 if using bottled juice). Add clams and clam juice. Stir contents well. Add flour, salt and pepper. Give another quick stir. Cover and cook on low for 10 hours or high for 5 hours. When 30 minutes remain, stir in half & half.
While that begins to warm and cook, heat up the large skillet again. Add in bacon pieces. Do not leave bacon unattended for any reason! Bacon can go from undercooked, to cooked to overcooked in a hurry. Depending on your bacon and the sizes of your pieces the timing will vary. At first cook with the bacon spread throughout the pan. When it begins to cook and produce more liquid grease, pull bacon pieces together in a small bunch. This will allow the grease to heat and cook the bacon better - or at least that's how I feel. Toss and stir until it almost looks done then remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. Remove 1/2 tbsp bacon grease. Reserve a small portion of cooked bacon pieces (1 1/2 slices worth) for topping chowder later. Toss remaining larger portion of bacon pieces into crock and 1/2 tbsp bacon grease. Stir well. Replace lid and let cook.
Divide among bowls serving warm and sprinkling with bacon.
*Use 2 cans of clams drained and 2 undrained or 4 cans of clams drained and 1: 8oz bottle of clam juice.
*created in a 6-quart slow cooker on high
Recipe source: My Recipes
*This recipe has been slightly adjusted from the original to assure better results. Please be sure to follow the recipe accordingly. Also, if this is your first time making this or any other slow cooker recipe, I recommend being home while it cooks so you can monitor it and guarantee desired results.