New England Clam Chowder

2 cups shucked clams, chopped (can use canned)
1 1/2 cups clam juice
1/4 cup salt pork, minced to a paste
1/2 cup onion, small dice
1/2 cup celery, small dice
1 1/2 teaspoons thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups milk, scalded
4 cups russet potatoes, peeled, 1/2" dice
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon (or to taste) Tabasco
1/2 teaspoon (or to taste) Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

  1. If using whole clams, steam in a covered pan using 2 cups water until they open. Strain the broth through a filter or cheesecloth and reserve. Remove from the shell, chop and reserve clams.
  2. Render the salt pork slowly.
  3. Add the onion and celery and cook slowly until translucent. Add the thyme; cook 1 minute.
  4. Stir in the flour and cook to make a blond roux.
  5. Add reserved broth or clam juice and milk gradually, and incorporate to a smooth consistency. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.
  6. Add the potatoes and cook until tender (approx 15 minutes).

Chef: Rustic, darker look, this is not as traditional, but OK as long as you are consistent. Good flavor, tender potatoes, can see most of thickening is from roux, less from potato. Could use some fresh cracked black pepper. Chowder was thick and thickened more as it sat.

Chef tip: if customer sees a larger piece of celery, they expect some "crunch" or bite to it (not too much, but not mushy either). You need to create expectations and fulfill them as a chef. Also, consistent knife cuts are key to making each bite meet expectations and keeping cook time consistent for vegetables.

Personal/Team: Enjoyed the chowder, felt the 1/4 inch dice on potatoes and celery kept a good consistent texture and made it easier to cook. Next time, I would use a little less roux to make it thinner since it does thicken as it sits. I did like the darker color to the soup though.

Lessons Learned:
1. thickeners
Chowders thicken with potatoes and roux. You can use different ratios of potato and roux or use different types of potato (waxy vs. mealy) and lighter to darker roux to get different textures and color. If using a waxy potato, it will keep form better, but it won't thicken as well. When using roux as a thickener, the darker the roux, the more flavor, but less thickening power. The lighter the roux, the more it will thicken. Personally, I like a little color to my chowder and I like a strong bite of potato, so cooking the roux to a darker color and cutting the potato to a larger 1/2' size and simmering a little longer to allow the potato to do some of the thickening will get the result I'm looking for.

2. Pork belly, salt pork & Bacon
Pork Belly -- the raw meat taken from the pig
Salt Pork -- pork belly that has been salted to preserve (mostly fat, less meat)
Bacon -- pork belly that has been cured or smoked, these preservation methods give flavor to the pork fat, there is generally more meat than salt pork.