If you’ve been a follower of Garlic & Zest the last few years, you know my loathe of football and that the Super Bowl is pretty much the only day that this sport gets any love from me. My reasons are two-fold: 1. These two teams have clawed, fought and overcome deflation to get to this day and they should be recognized for their efforts. 2. It’s the last game of the season — football widow no more — Yay!!!
And since I don’t really care about the game itself and food is my motivating factor in pretty much EVERYTHING I do, the only way I can make this an interesting day is to focus on the food… and not your standard game-day-fare. No. We make dishes that are indigenous to the areas in the country where the teams are from.
As the playoffs ensue, my husband, Scott, keeps me up to speed on which cities (um, teams) are in contention for the title — and we start making our short-list of foods that match up to those cities. Wisconsin — I was gonna make my own brats… Pittsburgh — it was gonna be pirogies (I was saying silent prayers not to be Pittsburgh) Houston was going to involve some kind of barbecue… and Seattle – I was going to come up with something new, because I’d already made those salmon sliders.
Instead we ended up with New England and Atlanta — two very delicious food cities, IMO. Today, I’m focused on the Patriots – and an Authentic New England Clam Chowder. This doesn’t involve clams from a can, although you’re welcome to go that route if you find yourself in a pinch on game day.
There are no surprises in this chowder, just a luxuriously, buttery, creamy — dare I say, bacon-y broth that’s loaded with fresh chopped clams and tender potatoes. I bought my clams at our local fish market and I may have bought one of their stellar smoked fish dips as well… I came home and cooked and photographed and sampled, swooned and photographed some more… Then I invited taste tester and friend, Nola, over to join Scott and me for dinner — where we went through two bottles of wine and about half of this pot of soup. Goody, more for later…
Stay tuned…next up is the menu plan for the Atlanta Falcons…
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Authentic New England Clam Chowder
- 7-8 pounds clams Cherrystone, about 1 1/2-2 dozen large clams, scrubbed of grit
- 4 cups cold water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ½ pound bacon thick cut, chopped
- 2 stalks celery finely diced
- 1 medium onion finely diced
- 2½ pounds yukon gold potatoes peeled and cut into half inch dice
- 1 tablespoon thyme fresh or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water cold
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup celery tops (the leaves) chopped
- 4 strips bacon crisped
- 1 cup oyster crackers
- Place the scrubbed clams in a heavy stock pot and add 4 cups cool water. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and bring the water to a boil. When water begins to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 8-10 minutes, until clams open. Use a pair of tongs to transfer the clams to a baking sheet to cool.
- Place a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and pour the clam juice through the sieve to remove any grit. Reserve the juice.
- Clean and dry the pot and place it back on the stove over medium high heat. Add the butter and swirl it in the pan until it melts. Add the chopped bacon and cook 8-10 minutes or until crisp. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the bacon to a dish lined with paper towels. Add the chopped onion and celery to the hot grease and cook until tender and translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in 6 cups of reserved clam juice, potatoes, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
- In a small dish combine the cornstarch and water and stir into a slurry. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the soup and heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Cook for one minute until broth thickens slightly. Stir in the clams, three quarters of the bacon and the cream.
- Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped celery leaves, remaining bacon and oyster crackers.