Grandma's Clam Chowder Recipe - Pacific Coast Clam Chowder

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A true Clam Chowder is a matter of debate between New Englanders and those further down the coast. New Englanders say that milk must be used, while New Yorkers and Philadelphians maintain just as stoutly that a chowder is not a chowder unless the stock is made from fish and contains tomatoes. In other parts of the country, the subject is academic, and both are acceptable.

This is my family's favorite Clam Chowder. My Grandma Myers taught me to make this clam chowder went I was a young girl. For our family, this clam chowder is traditional to serve this chowder on Christmas Eve every year. My grandchildren insist that it be served!


Pacific Coast Clam Chowder

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Grandma's Clam Chowder - Pacific Coast Clam Chowder Recipe:

Normally, I just add the chowder ingredients, without measuring, to my soup pot. I just taste and add them to my liking. For you, I have attempted to write down my family's recipe. Add or delete to your family's taste. ENJOY!

Recipe Type: Chowder, Clams, Potatoes
Cuisine: Pacific Northwest
Yields: 8 servings
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 30 min


5 bacon slices, cut into 1/4-inch pieces*
1/4 cup salted or unsalted butter (your choice)
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups milk**
Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (as many potatoes as your prefer)
2 (6 1/2-ounce) cans minced clams, undrained
Crackers or bread

* I like to cut off most of the fat from the bacon.

** I sometimes replace some of the milk with cream.


In a large soup pot over medium heat, sauté bacon until crisp and golden brown. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon; drain bacon on paper towels (drain off the bacon fat from the soup pot). Set bacon aside. I don't add the bacon fat back to my clam chowder, but it is your choice!

Reduce heat to low and add butter and stir until melted. Add onions and cook until they are translucent and soft (about 10 to 15 minutes). Sautéing the onions in the butter is important to achieve the excellent taste. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.

Add flour, salt, and pepper, stirring constantly until well blended. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly until sauce comes to a boil and thickens.


Making a large quantity of clam chowder:

Since I usually make a large pot (sometimes a couple of pots) of clam chowder for my family, I make a Roux with flour and butter for thickening the chowder to my liking:

First use some of the butter to sauté the onions.

Then using equal parts of butter and flour, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk the flour and butter together. Cook, stirring, it until the flour/butter mixture are well blended and starts to lose its raw flour smell.  NOTE: A good guideline is to use 1 tablespoon of flour for every 2 cups of liquid you have, but adjust to your taste.

Slowly add the milk to the roux, stirring constantly to blend well.

My family likes a thinly-thickened chowder, but thicken to your liking.

popovers2Add the cut-up potatoes and simmer approximately 10 to 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Add the cooked bacon, clams and clam liquid; simmer until thoroughly heated. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.

Serve in large soup bowls. I sometimes like to add a dollop of butter on top of each bowl of clam chowder (your choice). Serve with crackers or bread. Our family likes to serve this clam chowder with Never-Fail Popovers.

Makes 8 servings.


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