Does anyone else out there have a cooking bucket list? You know, a list of recipes that you hope one day you will be brave enough to try?
Homemade New England clam chowder was on my bucket list. I have wanted to try making it for years, but kept putting it off for one reason or another. For one, most of the recipes I came across called for at least four dozen littleneck clams. My local market sells them for $.50 a piece, making that a grand total of almost $25 for one ingredient. If your family lives on a budget, you know where I’m coming from. Two, I don’t work with fresh clams or oysters that often, and because of that I’m a little intimidated by them.
I planned on writing this very in-depth post on the proper way to purchase and handle fresh clams. However, after trying to shuck 48 of them, I have come to the conclusion that I never want to shuck another clam as long as I live. And I mean NEVER EVER.
I had no idea how I was supposed to go about shucking a clam. I mean, how are you supposed to get these little suckers open? This guy gives a great, short video demonstration and by following his instructions, I was able to get the first clam open with no problem.
It was pretty much all downhill from there. An hour later, I still had only managed to get one clam open. I tried letting them sit in the fridge to “relax” the muscles. I tried pouring warm water over them. Finally as a last resort (and maybe a little out of frustration), I placed them in a steamer basket over a little boiling water and let them steam just until I saw the shells begin to open.
All that work for something roughly the size of a quarter. Yeah, I know fresh clams have the taste of the sea and all that jazz. No thanks. The chowder was delicious. No doubt, I’ll make it again. But next time, I’m reaching for a can opener.
So tell me, what’s on your cooking bucket list?
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 3 celery ribs, diced
- 2 slices bacon
- 5 potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
- 5 cups clam juice
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 1 teaspoon celery salt
- 48 littleneck clams, or 2 (15 oz.) good quality canned clams, juice reserved, coarsely chopped
- 5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups heavy cream
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Melt the butter in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.
- Add the onion, celery, and bacon and sauté for 5-7 minutes.
- Add potatoes, clam juice, bay leaves, tarragon, and celery salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 35 minutes.
- Stir in the clams, and continue to simmer uncovered for another 5 minutes.
- Add Worcestershire sauce, heavy cream, salt, and pepper. Simmer for another 7 minutes.
- Remove and discard bay leaves.