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Best Clam Chowder Recipe?

I have half and half and fish stock to use, thinking of making a big pot of clam chowder this weekend. I have several recipes, do people have favorites among those in Cook's Illustrated's New Best Recipe, The Gourmet Cookbook and Mark Bittman's Minimalist Cooks at Home?

Eat Your Books tells me I also have clam chowder recipes in The New Basics, Eating Well's Comfort Foods and The Secrets of Success, Michael Bauer's compilation of recipes from San Francisco restaurants.

Would love your input on your favorite recipe, or pointers on heavy cream versus half and half, etc.

Thanks and happy Thanksgiving!

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  1. My only rule is no flour to "thicken" the chowder. If you want it thick, add a chopped russet potato along with the waxy ones that will not fall apart in the soup.

    1. I do not like chowders thickened with flour, so I went with a Rhode Island style clam chowder when I set out to make my first one. It is the way to go if you want you chowder to taste like CLAMS!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Terrie H.

        I like that style too. Also, needs a little thyme and I cut chives to sprinkle on top for color and interest.

      2. Ok I am guilty of cheating on this one. I just make a pot of potato soup with the half and half, extra butter, a little white pepper, and a little garlic. Then I throw in the clams and bring the whole thing to a boil.

        1. My preference is for a manhattan style clam chowder - tomatoey and bothy, not thick and creamy. I found a great recipe in the NY Times that used salt pork to flavor the broth, and it was super fast and simple. I can't find it right now, but I'm sure it would turn up on a google search.

          1 Reply
          1. I always make the James Beard version from Delights and Prejudices, mainly, I suppose, because he was a local boy, spending his summers at the beach where I grew up (in Oregon). You must use the local razor clams, of course. These are available canned from the Bell Buoy Co. (order the minced for chowder).

            People from the Puget Sound area hold that geoducks make the best chowder. I suppose the best clam is usually thought to be the local one, freshly dug.

            1. I like the one in Cook's Illustrated "Best Recipe" (Sorry, I don't have the New Best recipe, so I can't compare it). The only change I make is to cook the clams a little longer than the recipe suggests (the recipe calls for adding them right at the end and bringing the chowder back to a simmer, then serving; I find the clams need maybe 10 minutes of cooking). I agree with the "no flour" rule - this recipe doesn't call for any, and I think it is just right. It also uses heavy cream (a cup I think), which seems to result in a good flavour. Very nice with baking powder biscuits!

              1. Anyone run into dairy-less versions? I've been looking for years.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Sarah

                  Classic "clear" chowder just uses clams, potatoes, salt pork, onions and water--not a drop of dairy in sight--though I could imagine adding coconut milk for an interesting variation.

                2. My favorite is actually a quahog chowder that also uses fresh chopped clam found in supermarkets in pint containers. The quahogs, bellies and all, add a delicious richness and clam flavor to the chowder. I also agree with other posters, NO flour to thicken. Mash a potato instead.

                  Here's the recipe.


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: CapeCodGuy

                    But quahogs ARE clams, just big ones. Not a fan of the bellies, but yes, NO flour.