Classic Clam Chowder

classic clam chowder recipe
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  • 2 slices bacon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (plus more to taste)
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup broth or clam juice
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh clams
  • Garnish: freshly ground black pepper


Gather the ingredients.

Finely chop the bacon. Heat a medium pot over medium-high heat, add the butter, and once the butter is melted, add the bacon. Cook, stirring now and again until the bacon renders its fat. Adjust the heat so the butter doesn’t brown.

Finely chop the celery and the onion. Add them to the bacon and sprinkle with salt. Cook, stirring once in a while, until the vegetables are soft, about 3 minutes.

Peel and chop the potatoes. Once vegetables are soft, sprinkle them with flour. Cook, stirring until the flour smells a bit like pie crust—that will let you know that it is cooked and keep the chowder from having a raw flour flavor—about 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, broth, and milk. Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes are very tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Do one of two things. Either shuck the raw clams or heat a large pot over high heat. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup water to the pot. It should sizzle immediately. Add the clams, cover, and cook until all the clams are open—3 to 5 minutes. Lift clams out of the pot. Use a fork or small tongs to pull the clams out of their shells. Discard the shells. Strain the clam cooking liquid through several layers of cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel to make sure any grit is left behind. Add strained cooking liquid to the chowder.

Once potatoes are tender, add the clams and simmer until the clams are cooked through, about 5 minutes for raw shucked clams and just 1 to 2 minutes for the steamed-opened clams.

Cook for 15-20 more minutes.

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