Autumn is here. Or at least it’s trying to be here. I can feel it trying to push summer out the door. “Go home,” it says. “You’ve stayed along.”
But wait! Didn’t I just say this has been my best summer ever? Yes, I did. But I’ll always prefer fall to summer. I look forward to this being my best autumn ever. For one thing, this is clam chowder weather. Kris and I have both been craving the stuff lately. Tonight I made the first batch of the season.
Because I’m that kind of guy, I’ve set down my ingredients here. I’m always fussing with this recipe, trying to find the perfect balance of everything. Tonight’s batch seems especially good (though there’s no way to know until its rested for a day or two in the fridge —
I always serve this to guests 24-48 hours old because this allows the flavors to meld I always let this stand for 24-48 hours before serving because it allows the flavors to meld.).
Anyhow, for my own edification, here’s this batch’s ingredient list:
- Four 8-ounce bottles of clam juice used to boil five pounds of russet potatoes. Also, I added juice from two 6-1/2 ounce cans of minced clams.
- Four tablespoons of butter (half a stick) used to fry a 20-ounce package of Fletcher’s thick pepper bacon. This produced too much fat. The bacon wouldn’t brown and it wouldn’t stick. I think I need to cut back to two tablespoons of butter for next time.
- One bulb of garlic (bulb, not clove), one bunch of celery (bunch, not stalk), and two HUGE yellow onions. Also two bay leaves.
- After combining the bacon and vegetables, I thought I had way too much stuff. The big pot was half full. But after I added half a cup of flour and stirred vigorously, everything was reduced to a pulpy mass. It was perfect.
- I used a 51-ounce can of chopped clams from Costco as my main meat source (adding the meat from the two cans of minced clams). I used the juice from the big can for the roux. There were about three cups. I added about 100ml at a time and stirred to thicken. It was perfect.
- After the roux, I added 1-1/2 teaspoons of hickory smoke salt. Previous batches have been a little salty, so I’m trying to cut down. I also added one tablespoon of Tapatío hot sauce. I only used two cups of half-and-half because I have notes that bumping it much higher mutes most of the flavors.
- After adding everything (including the potato mixture), I ground pepper for a couple of minutes.
- Things tasted fine, but I wasn’t getting enough hickory flavor, so I added a few drops of liquid smoke. That seemed to help.
As I say, the first tastes of this batch are quite good. Delicious, in fact. The true test will be how the stuff tastes for dinner tomorrow night.
The funny thing (to me, anyhow) is that I’ll be making a second batch of this over the weekend. If my Saturday gathering breaks up early, I’ll make it then. Otherwise I’ll be whipping it up bright and early Sunday morning. We’re serving it for book group on Sunday evening.
Ah, clam chowder season is a happy time of year.