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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Traveller's Clam Chowder

From:  "Iron Kettle and Clams" - Soren Emil Carlsen (1926)
 As Nigel taught me, when travelling, tinned food can be a boon.  Not only are you guarranteed a meal without much foraging, but you may also have some of the home comforts that would otherwise be near impossible.  One such comfort is the "Traveller's Clam Chowder".  Using tinned clams allowed me to bring a simplified version of my childhood comfort with us on many of our exlpoits abroad.

This is also a lovely way of using older, hearty vegetables, especially root vegetables.  Nigel makes sure we always have these on hand, as well as various meat drippings.  He's an occasional devout fan of rustic living.

Traveller's Clam Chowder
2 tins or cans (6.5 oz each) clams, juice reserved
1 cup heavy cream
1 to 2 cups whole milk
2 Tbsps bacon drippings
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
4 medium white potatoes, diced
1 tsp minced garlic (or 1 to 2 cloves)
2 bay leaves
ground thyme
sea salt
cooked rice (optional)

Heat bacon drippings in a dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic, stirring occasionally.  When onions pieces begin to soften, add carrots and celery, stirring occasionally.  When vegetables have begun to soften, add clams, clam juice, and potatoes.  After a couple minutes, lower heat and add the cream, 1 cup milk, bay leaves, a few dashes of ground thyme, and a couple pinches of sea salt.  Adjust seasoning as you see fit.  Cover dutch oven and allow to simmer for 20 to 40 minutes.  Add more milk if you desire a thinner chowder.  When done, serve over the rice (if using).

Side Notes:
I prefer Snows canned clams.  Whether chopped or minced is up to personal taste and texture preference.  Light cream and lighter forms of milk may be used, if desired, though starch (such as corn starch) may need to be added to assist in a creamy texture.  Using russet potatoes instead of white may also assist in giving a creamier texture without the necessity of using an additional starch.  A lighter oil, such as olive oil, may also be used instead of the bacon drippings, though the flavor will be affected.

We normally use white rice, but have recently tried brown glutinous rice which I now prefer for this.  The added chewy texture and light nutty flavor was a lovely addition.  I cannot vouch for regular brown rice, though I can see it having a similar effect (though a less pearlesque appearance).

Friday, March 4, 2011

An update

I feel remiss in sharing our culinary exploits.  Have no fear, for we have not been stagnant in ideas.  On my list to share are porridges and chowders.  As you can see, I have been in a mood for simple, rustic fare.