New England Clam Chowder

READY IN: 1hr 45mins
YIELD: 10 cups




  • Scrub the clams, and rinse clean.
  • Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in an 8-quart stockpot over high heat.
  • Add the clams, and cover tightly.
  • After 5 minutes, uncover, and stir the clams with a wooden spoon.
  • Quickly cover the pot again, and let steam for 5 minutes more, or until most of the clams have opened.
  • Don‘t wait for them all to open, or they will be overcooked.
  • It should only take a little tug or prying to open the stragglers once they are all removed from the heat.
  • The total cooking time for large cherrystones will be about 10 minutes; quahogs will need as much as 5 more minutes.
  • While the clams are steaming, the broth should become foamy and light.
  • It usually spills over a bit just as the clams are cooked and ready.
  • As soon as you remove the clams from the stove, carefully pour as much of the broth as you can into a tall, narrow container.
  • Let the broth sit for 10 minutes, then carefully pour through a fine-mesh strainer.
  • After sitting, 99 percent of the grit will have collected at the bottom of the container.
  • If you are not using the broth within the hour, chill it as quickly as possible, and cover it after it has completely cooled.
  • Keep refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.
  • Remove the clams from their shells, cover, and refrigerate.
  • After they have cooled a bit, dice them into 1/2-inch pieces.
  • Cover again, and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
  • Heat a 4- to 6-quart heavy-bottomed pot over low heat and add the salt pork.
  • Once it has rendered a few tablespoons of fat, increase the heat to medium and cook until the salt pork is a crisp golden brown.
  • Remove from pot; set aside.
  • Add the butter, onions, garlic, celery, thyme, and bay leaves.
  • Sauté, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the onions are softened but not browned, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the potatoes and the strained clam broth.
  • The broth should just barely cover the potatoes; if it doesn’t, add enough water to cover them.
  • Increase the heat, and bring to a boil.
  • Cover, and cook the potatoes vigorously until they are soft on the outside but still firm in the center, about 10 minutes.
  • If the broth hasn’t thickened lightly, smash a few potatoes against the side of the pot, and cook 1 to 2 minutes more to release the starch.
  • Remove pot from the heat, and stir in the diced clams and the cream.
  • Season to taste.
  • If you are not serving the chowder within the hour, let it cool a bit, then refrigerate; cover the chowder after it has completely chilled.
  • Otherwise, let it sit at room temperature for up to 1 hour, allowing the flavors to meld.
  • When ready to serve, reheat the chowder over low heat; don’t let it boil.
  • Ladle into cups or bowls, making sure that the clams, potatoes, and onions are evenly divided.
  • Sprinkle with parsley, chives, and reserved salt-pork cracklings.