Matt and I made New England clam chowder for a rainy hockey-filled chill-out weekend. I tweaked a simple recipe by adding leeks and white wine, doubled the bacon and celery, and subbed in Old Bay for hot sauce. It's super easy and not too heavy. We also are big fans of Bar Harbor canned chopped clams and clam juice—the all-natural Seafood packing company out of Whiting, Maine which you can get at many major grocery stores around the country (here you can find them at Gelson's).
New England Clam Chowder
Makes about 6 large servings
3 8-ounce bottles clam juice
1 lb. Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 Tbsp butter
6 slices bacon, chopped
2 cups onion, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
3 medium leeks, chopped (just the white and pale green parts)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
.5 cup dry white wine
.25 cup all purpose flour
6 6.5-ounce can chopped clams, drained, juices reserved
1.25 cups half & half
1 Tbsp Old Bay spice
Chopped parsley and oyster crackers for garnish
Bring bottled clam juice and potatoes to boil in heavy large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low; cover and simmer until potatoes are tender (about ten minutes). Remove from heat.
Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add bacon, cook until it browns (about 8 min). Add onions, celery, leeks, garlic and bay leaves. Sauté until vegetables soften, about 6 minutes. Whisk in white wine. Stir in flour and cook for two minutes. Whisk in reserved juices from clams. Add potato mixture, clams, half & half, and Old Bay. Simmer for at least five minutes before serving. It's twice as good the next day. It's also really tasty to cook more bacon and sprinkle on top as a garnish.