Basic White New England Clam Chowder
October 30, 2012

It is my wholehearted belief that every New England cook should have at least one ‘chowda’ recipe in their repertoire, recipe box, notebook, or what have you. Forgetting how easy it is to make or even how ‘hassle free’ the cooking is in a slow cooker over the course of the day; the bottom line is this… cooks, chefs, and even ‘Iron Chefs’ alike, should pride themselves in their regional recipes. If you live in Louisiana, you better know at least one gumbo recipe. That’s all I’m saying. New Englanders, in my opinion, should be no different when carrying the torch for our regional New England recipes. White Clam Chowder is an excellent place to begin. With that in mind, I’m going to give you my version of a good place to start. I am a New Englander, and who better to learn from?


This is a basic white New England clam chowder recipe and is done in either a slow cooker or stock pot. If you don’t have a slow cooker or multi-cooker, you should get one. I absolutely love these. Their ease of use and the ability to just prep something and leave it to cook while you’re going about your day gives a no maintenance kind of feel and is very well received in my world. No hovering over the meal and plenty of leftovers. In the absence of a slow cooker or multi-cooker (or the absence of time) then a good sized stock pot or Dutch oven will do. This recipe will make a gallon and a half of White New England Clam Chowder. It’s made in a 6 quart slow cooker, so you’ll need at least a stock pot or Dutch oven that will hold 6 quarts.

You’ll find this recipe very easy to tweak to your liking. Instead of 1 quart of shucked clams with the liquid you can use canned clams (that kind of thing).

Basic White New England Clam Chowder
Prep Time Cook Time Total Time
30 min 15 min OR 6 Hrs 45 Min OR 6 1/2 Hrs
Author: Hash Slinger
Meal Type: Meal
Servings: 4-6
Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 lbs Shucked Clams OR 24-30 Oz of canned clams
  • 5-6 Large Potatoes (chopped into bite sized)
  • 1 large onion (chopped small)
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 all purpose flour
  • 3 cups Half and Half cream
  • 3-4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 lb bacon cooked and chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons Dill Weed
  • 1 Tsp each Salt and Pepper
Directions:
Potatoes
  1. Quick Chowder will have you cooking the potatoes until tender beforehand
  2. Slow cooked chowder can add potatoes raw as they'll cook all day in the chowder
Clams
  1. Save 1 cup clam juice from either the shucked or canned clams.
  2. In another pot, bring your clams and clam juice to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer (approx 15 minutes).
Roux
  1. In another pan (at least 2 quart) you're going to melt the butter and saute the onions until they become translucent.
  2. Stir in the flour and keep on low heat for a 2-3 minutes.
Chowder
  1. Slowly stir the hot clams and clam juice into your roux (flour mixture).
  2. Slowly bring to a boil and let stand on low while you put everything in the pot.
  3. Add cooked potatoes to pot. Pour clam stock over potatoes.
  4. Add (bacon, optional), dill weed, salt and pepper, and then add your half and half.
  5. Give an initial SLOW stir to mix the ingredients, cover and cook for at least 15 minutes for Quick Chowder.
Notes:
Cooking it slow over the course of the day gives a nice creamy texture and a full flavor to the chowda. If you can go all day (at least 6 hours?), it's well worth the effort. Stir occasionally, but initially wait 2 hours before stirring if you're using a slow cooker.

This recipe works and tastes just fine in a stock pot instead of a slow cooker for faster times, but you’ll sacrifice the rich flavor you get by slow cooking ingredients together over the course of the day. You could of course just cook it slow and low on the stove as well in the absence of a slow cooker. It doesn’t matter what you use to cook it with because essentially you’re just mixing the ingredients together and heating them. Everything is already cooked, and you’re now trying to marry those flavors. If you’re going to go the stove route, I usually go 20 minutes on medium to medium high heat. Make sure not to boil, but a few bubbles will usually creep in. This 20 minute cooking time usually makes sure the red potatoes are ‘right’ to my liking.

What you have to remember about potatoes is that the longer they cook, the more starch you may see making it’s way into the chowda, which in turn will thicken the longer it’s cooked. More so on the russets.. but any potato really. That’s not something you’ll see with a four to five hour cook time but if you’re the type of person that likes to get everything ready the night before and simply turn the slow cooker on low before you go to work in the morning, only to return 10-12 hours later; you might find the chowda start to thicken when you get home. I usually will add more half and half to bring the chowda back to a good consistency.