Thick and creamy with the salty-sweet flavors of bacon and clams, this is an American classic for a warming dinner
New England Clam Chowder With Oyster Crackers
Total Time: 1 hour
- 75g bacon lardons
- 1kg clams, cleaned (throw away any that won’t close while cleaning)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 1 large potato, peeled and chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp flour
- 500ml whole milk
- 250ml single cream
- 150g plain flour
- 1 tsp golden caster sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 50g butter, cold and cut into cubes
Make the crackers by putting the ingredients in a food processor and whizzing until you have a mixture that looks like crumbs. Add cold water 1 tbsp at a time, whizzing in-between until you have a firm dough. Knead it on a floured surface until smooth, then let it rest for 20 minutes. Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Roll the dough out to ½cm thick and cut out small rounds (use the fat end of a piping nozzle) or 1cm squares and put them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Bake for 15 minutes or until they are very lightly browned on the base. Turn off the oven and leave them to cool inside it, with the door open. Store them in an airtight container.
Put the lardons in a cold pan and gently heat until the fat starts to melt out, then turn the heat up a little and fry until they start to brown. You want as much fat to come out as possible.
Meanwhile, put the clams in a shallow pan with 250ml water and bring to a simmer, put a lid on and cook for 3-4 minutes or until all the clams have opened. Shake the pan a couple of times to move the shells around and give them enough space to open. Tip them into a colander set over a bowl, then tip the liquid you collect through a very fine sieve.
Scoop the lardons out of the pan onto some kitchen paper and tip away most of the fat. Add the onion and celery to the pan with the residual fat, and fry them slowly and gently until they are very soft but not brown (there will be some brown bits left by the lardons – don’t worry about these, they add flavor). Add the lardons, potato, bay leaf, and flour, and stir until the flour is thoroughly mixed with any fat. Add the milk a little at a time, stirring to make sure the flour doesn’t turn into lumps. Add the liquid from the clams and bring to a simmer, then cook until the potato is tender.
Take most of the clams out of their shells and add them to the chowder with the cream, then bring back to a simmer. Season well, divide between small bowls and serve the crackers to scatter over the soup.