Making My New England Clam Chowder Good
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Old 12-28-2013, 03:17 AM   #1
ADJAquariums
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Making My New England Clam Chowder Good


So I've been dabbling in the "culinary arts" as of late. AKA learning to make foods that i can survive on in College.

So far i've learned to make all sorts of delicious dishes such as Kraft macaroni and Cheese, Grilled cheese, Ravioli from the freezer as well as my own Pizza . I've actually come to like creating my own seafood stews and such! Clam Chowder has been an all time favorite of mine. However my current issue is making it Thick. I have tried almost everything i can think of. Tons of flour kills the taste and makes it feel like your drinking bad custard, too much heavy cream drowns out all the other flavors like the scallions and bacon. I'm going to try to use a hand blender to make a potato puree to see if the starch in that can help.

Does anyone know how to make my soup thick? Restaurants refuse to release they're age old family secrets but maybe someone would like to share
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Old 12-28-2013, 03:33 AM   #2
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Cook it down, drive the excess water out. Always the easy answer for thickening anything. Make sure you add the clams 5-10 minutes before serving, otherwise, they'll turn to rubber if they cook too long.
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Old 12-28-2013, 03:48 AM   #3
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Corn starch works well to thicken soups, I'm not sure about clam chowder but you could try it. A little goes a long way.
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Old 12-28-2013, 03:49 AM   #4
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And when you've mastered that you can start on Beer Cheese Soup and send it this way for testing.... LoL
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Old 12-28-2013, 04:12 AM   #5
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Try using crushed oyster crackers to thicken. Also arrowroot can be used in place of corn starch as a thickener. These need the soup to be brought to a boil before they work however. NECC was not originally a thick chowda.
You might also try a Manhattan CC or a Rhode Island style chowda. Manhattan is my favorite but I grew up on RICC.

BTW traditional NECC is not a thick soup. Time on a super low heat will thicken it up for you without any additives. I usually wind up adding heavy cream to get it more traditional.

Get a recipe for a real mac n cheese instead of that uhm, ah, krapft. You'll be amazed at the difference and how easy it really is.

Quote:
While the chowder was once made solely with milk, giving it a thinner and soupier texture, today’s version calls for the addition of a white roux. Roux is a mixture of flour and fat that is used extensively in French and New Orleans Creole cooking to thicken and add richness to dishes. At one time, New England clam chowder was often served clear with milk provided on the side. This allowed the customer to flavor the dish to his taste. With the addition of the roux, however, this practice fell to the wayside.
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Old 12-28-2013, 04:23 AM   #6
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Are you adding already cooked potatoes or are you cooking them in the half-n-half/cream?
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Old 12-28-2013, 04:30 AM   #7
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The flour tastes raw because it is, you have to cook it down first just as you would for any white sauce.

Melt a pat of butter, add a teaspoon or two of flour so that it forms a thin paste. Cook it over medium heat being careful not to let the butter burn. If your butter hasn't had too many colorants added you'll see the mixture begin to lighten--or you can just taste a bit to test when it's been cooked enough to lose the raw flour taste.

Then remove it from the heat and slowly whisk in whatever liquid you're using for your primary dish. Pan drippings and broth will make a lovely thick brown gravy. Cream or milk will make a lusciously rich white sauce. Until you get a feel for how quickly it thins (or doesn't) with various liquids, add them very gradually whisking the mixture thoroughly and letting it sit for a bit as it'll thicken even more as it cools.

Alternatively, cornstarch is an easy thickener--but the trick is to create a slurry of the starch and a liquid before adding it to your dish. If you try to add the powdered cornstarch directly it'll clump.
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Old 12-28-2013, 04:44 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Knotyoureality View Post
The flour tastes raw because it is, you have to cook it down first just as you would for any white sauce.

Melt a pat of butter, add a teaspoon or two of flour so that it forms a thin paste. Cook it over medium heat being careful not to let the butter burn. If your butter hasn't had too many colorants added you'll see the mixture begin to lighten--or you can just taste a bit to test when it's been cooked enough to lose the raw flour taste.

Then remove it from the heat and slowly whisk in whatever liquid you're using for your primary dish. Pan drippings and broth will make a lovely thick brown gravy. Cream or milk will make a lusciously rich white sauce. Until you get a feel for how quickly it thins (or doesn't) with various liquids, add them very gradually whisking the mixture thoroughly and letting it sit for a bit as it'll thicken even more as it cools.

Alternatively, cornstarch is an easy thickener--but the trick is to create a slurry of the starch and a liquid before adding it to your dish. If you try to add the powdered cornstarch directly it'll clump.
The first part you're making a Roux. Cornstarch is added to cold water and then added to the broth/chowda/whatever. It will not reach full potency until it reaches a boil.Don't over boil or it breaks down.
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Old 12-28-2013, 12:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Knotyoureality View Post
The flour tastes raw because it is, you have to cook it down first just as you would for any white sauce.

Melt a pat of butter, add a teaspoon or two of flour so that it forms a thin paste. Cook it over medium heat being careful not to let the butter burn. If your butter hasn't had too many colorants added you'll see the mixture begin to lighten--or you can just taste a bit to test when it's been cooked enough to lose the raw flour taste.

Then remove it from the heat and slowly whisk in whatever liquid you're using for your primary dish. Pan drippings and broth will make a lovely thick brown gravy. Cream or milk will make a lusciously rich white sauce. Until you get a feel for how quickly it thins (or doesn't) with various liquids, add them very gradually whisking the mixture thoroughly and letting it sit for a bit as it'll thicken even more as it cools.

Alternatively, cornstarch is an easy thickener--but the trick is to create a slurry of the starch and a liquid before adding it to your dish. If you try to add the powdered cornstarch directly it'll clump.


OP - You might try cooking in a crook pot, long & slow. I make a lot of stews, soups in the winter with mine. Removing the lid in the last 30min will thicken broth.

I also cook chicken, turkey breast and roasts in there. You can place a layer of potatoes & carrots under the meat and cook them too. Another trick is a layer of aluminum foil balls (golf ball size) under the chicken. The greece with drip to the bottom keeping the bird 'clean'.

There are even meatloaf recipes for crook pots.
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Old 12-28-2013, 02:07 PM   #10
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Wow, looks like i know what im spending this weekend doing! Thanks for all the advice! i'll update you guys and gals when i find something that works well for me!
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Old 12-28-2013, 04:01 PM   #11
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While pretty much everything is available somewhere on the internet these days, it's nice to have one comprehensive resource in the kitchen when cooking---for me, it's one book: The Joy of Cooking.

Most cookbooks are 90% recipe and 10% instructions with half the instructions making no sense if you're not already familiar with the basics. TJOC breaks things down to their simplest terms, explains why things work they do, offers substitutions and fixes, walks you thru pretty much everything you'll need to know about choosing, using and caring for the equipment and foods you're cooking and, of course, has tons of recipes.
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Old 12-28-2013, 04:31 PM   #12
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My chowders usually consist of a fish fumet with the addition of clams.

If I don't have the time to prepare the fish stock, a standard mirepoix (carrots, celery, onion) & bouquet garni (parsley/thyme/bay leaves) should work too for a soup base.

One of the easiest & best ways to make a soup thicker is to add a few EXTRA potatoes (diced) to the recipe you're using. Or add some non traditional chowder veggies like zucchini & yellow summer squash.

For cream type soups, roux is typically what you would use as thickener @ the last minute.

Also if you want more complexity to your soup, pan roast all your ingredients before you add water.

Since you mentioned the bacon is NOT noticeable, SAVE it for the end as a topping/garnish when you're about to serve. Brown the diced bacon with the scallions & a little dash of cayenne for heat.

You can serve with crackers, but I prefer using lightly TOASTED sliced baguette, sesame loaf, or buttermilk biscuits.
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Old 12-28-2013, 04:33 PM   #13
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stupid GraphicGr8s, everytime i found something to chime in i would scroll down and you would say it! arg!

lol anyway when making a roux it doesn't have to be butter, you can use any fat you want, bacon grease for example is just another way to impart more flavor. a roux is equal parts fat to flour, and like i said any fat will work. the longer you cook the roux the darker it will become, and the darker your product will be.

personally i stay away from corn syrup because its only a few chemical processes away from high fructose corn syrup. i prefer doing it the old fanshioned way, i think it tastes better.

if you want to make your own mac and cheese there are many simple ways to make it, if you are tight on time you can heat some heavy cream, add american cheese (or chedder or what ever kind you want) stir in the cheese as it melts, and toss in your noodles (that is how every restaurant i've worked at makes its own mac some will do a part milk and a part cream).

also if you have a coffee pot there is a new fad where people are cooking meals in their coffee pots.
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Old 12-28-2013, 04:41 PM   #14
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I'm from Maine and we don't usually have a really thick chowder - I don't like most restaurant chowders (and especially anything canned) for that reason - in Maine the tradiitional way starts with browing small dice salt pork, then scooping out the crispy bits - adding fish stock (or even water) - just enough to cover your small diced potatoes and onions, cooking that until soft, then adding the clams to the broth, then adding milk or cream and finally when done adding the crispy salt pork bits back in just before serving. If you cool it before adding the crispy bits - all day or even overnight and then reheat the next day and add the crispy bits the product is a lot better.
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Old 12-28-2013, 05:50 PM   #15
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Dogfish is right too.. A crock pot is perfect for a busy college life. Toss a roast in with some taters and carrots and come home to dinner ready. Tater soup, BBQ, chili, sketti, you can make a LOT of stuff in a crock pot!
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