Clam chowder, with its rich, creamy broth, tender clams, and comforting flavors, has been a beloved dish along the coastal regions of the United States for centuries. Today, we’re taking a classic twist on this maritime favorite by adding crispy bacon and hearty potatoes, elevating it to a heartwarming comfort food masterpiece.
Clam chowder has a storied history, with various regional variations across the United States. New England clam chowder, often made with a creamy, milk-based broth, is one of the most iconic versions. However, the addition of potatoes and bacon is more closely associated with Manhattan clam chowder, which boasts a tomato-based broth and a hearty, savory profile.
Our recipe combines the best of both worlds, blending the creaminess of New England clam chowder with the satisfying texture and smoky flavor of bacon and potatoes. It’s a tribute to the diverse culinary traditions of America’s coastal communities.
Step 1: Prepare the Clams
- In a large soup pot, bring 1 inch of water to a boil.
- Add the cleaned littleneck clams and cover the pot. Steam them for about 5-7 minutes or until they open.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the clams from the pot and set them aside. Discard any clams that don’t open.
- Strain the clam cooking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth to remove any sand or grit. Reserve the liquid for later.
Step 2: Cook the Bacon and Aromatics
- In the same pot, add the chopped bacon and cook over medium heat until it becomes crispy and the fat is rendered.
- Remove half of the bacon pieces and set them aside for garnish.
- Add the chopped onion and celery to the pot with the remaining bacon and sauté until they become translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the minced garlic and cook for an additional minute.
Step 3: Make the Roux
- Push the bacon and vegetable mixture to one side of the pot and add the butter to the cleared side.
- Once the butter has melted, sprinkle the all-purpose flour over it.
- Stir the flour into the butter to create a roux. Cook for 2-3 minutes until it becomes a light golden color.
Step 4: Add Broth and Potatoes
- Gradually pour in the reserved clam cooking liquid and chicken or vegetable broth, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.
- Add the diced potatoes and bay leaves to the pot. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
Step 5: Incorporate Clams and Cream
- While the potatoes are simmering, remove the clam meat from the shells and chop it into bite-sized pieces.
- Once the potatoes are tender, stir in the clam meat, milk, and heavy cream.
- Season the chowder with salt and black pepper to taste.
Step 6: Simmer and Serve
- Allow the chowder to simmer gently for another 10-15 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.
- Remove the bay leaves before serving.
- Ladle the clam chowder into bowls, garnishing each with reserved crispy bacon pieces and freshly chopped parsley.
Step 7: Enjoy! Serve this delightful Clam Chowder with Bacon and Potatoes piping hot, accompanied by some crusty bread or oyster crackers for the perfect coastal comfort meal.
This delightful fusion of New England and Manhattan clam chowder traditions will surely warm your soul with its creamy goodness, smoky bacon, and hearty potatoes. Whether you’re by the seaside or simply craving a taste of coastal comfort, this clam chowder is a delightful choice.