Clam Chowder (the easy way)

17aChowderBowlBreadNicebfLOWhat could be nicer on a (suddenly) cold and dreary day than a steaming pot of chowder on the table for supper?

How about a steaming pot of home made chowder made from scratch, but easy (and still wicked tasty) with clams from a can and a roux made in the ‘wave?

Oh, and mebbe a fresh loaf or two of honey rye flat bread to help sop up all of that chowdery goodness… but that’s tomorrow’s tale…

•1 good tbsp bacon fat
•1 carrot, diced
•2 stalks celery, chopped
•1 medium onion chopped
•6 or so small red potatoes, diced
•2 cups chicken broth
•1 bay leaf
•1/2 cup butter
•1/2 cup flour
•1/4 cup half and half
07aOnionCarrotsCelerybfLO•1-3/4 cup whole milk
•1/2 tsp seasoned salt
•1/2 tsp pepper
•1/2 tsp dried thyme
•2 cans chopped clams (DO NOT DRAIN)

A note on the bacon fat: I try to always keep a bit of bacon fat in the freezer, for just such an occasion; a very little bit, used to sauté some of the veggies, will add a nice, smoky flavor to the chowder – similar to the salt pork used in traditional recipes – but not a whole lot of extra fat/bad stuff.

10PotatoesVeggiesSaute1MinutebfLOMelt the bacon fat in a large pot over medium-high heat, then add half of the onion, celery, and carrots and sauté for 4 minutes.

Add the rest of the onion, celery, and carrots, along with the potatoes and sauté for 1 minute more.

14ChowderPotStovebfLOOK, so here is where I forgot about Julia Child’s Number 1 Rule of the Kitchen: always start with a pot bigger than you think you will need.

A quick change to a more appropriately sized pot, and we are ready to add the chicken stock. I had some nice home made stock leftover from poaching some chicken for the Buffalo Chicken Stromboli, but good stock from a box is also a good thing.

Top it off with a bay leaf, then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, just until the potatoes are tender.

02RouxAfter1MinutebfLOWhile the veggies are simmering, let us make ourselves a roux in the ‘wave!

Slice the butter and add it to a ‘wave-safe bowl along with the flour (my 8 cup glass measuring cup works a treat for this).

‘Wave for 2 minutes, then whisk and ‘wave for another 2 minutes.

Remove and whisk until smooth.

06RouxDoneAddSeasoningbfLOStill whisking, add the milk and half and half, slowly.

‘Wave for for 60 seconds, whisk, and repeat until the sauce is thick and creamy – anywhere from 3 to 6 minutes.

Immediately add the salt, pepper, and thyme, then taste and be amazed at how very good it is. You can adjust the seasonings now if you like, but remember that the canned clams and their liquid will bring up the salt levels.

16aChowderPotTableCandlebfLOAdd this to the veggies in the big pot along with the clams and their liquid, then cover and warm gently to heat through.

We had ours with bits of that rye flat bread, some good olive oil for dunking the bread, a dollop or three of hot sauce, and black pepper.

Such a pleasant way to warm up a chilly evening.

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