From what I understand the key to a successful (read non-irritating) blog is to figure out your niche, hone your voice, and stick to it. If people started reading you because of cute pictures of your kid they’re not going to appreciate it if you suddenly wax poetic about the philosophical implications for the international community with respect to the uptick in non-binding UN resolutions.
A pound or two (or a can or two) of clams, with liquid reserved
4 thick strips of bacon
1 medium sized yellow onion, peeled and roughly diced
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
About a pound of starchy potatoes (like russets), peeled and roughly diced
2 cups of milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Handful chopped fresh parsley
You will need a 10-12” pan, a 4-6 qt. pot, knives and spoons and bowls and stuff, and a loaf of crusty bread.
Total prep and cooking time: 45 minutes to one hour.
|Look! Ingredients! Yay!|
A general rule of thumb for buying stuff: If I cannot guess what the hell the product is from the ingredient label and/or am unsure (or sure in a bad way) about what one of the ingredients are then I don’t buy it. The ingredient in milk is “milk.” The ingredient in butter is “cream.” So that’s good. The ingredients in the bacon I picked out are “pork, water, sea salt, honey, celery powder” not “pork cured with water, salt, high fructose corn syrup, sodium phosphates, sodium ascorbate, sodium nitrite, artificial maple flavor.” I shop on a pretty strict budget but I’m okay with chipping in an extra 10 cents a pound for the organic potatoes figuring that, really, the potato containing less chlorpropham residue has got to be tastier and better for you.
Here is the play by play.
1. See clams at the market. Think, “Hey! Today would be a good day to make clam chowder!” On the drive home realize I could make a blog post about this. Drag out my camera. Realize it’s out of batteries. Think, “Meh. It’s not like this post is going to be mistaken for a food-stylized, culinary master class and I need to write something today so I’m gonna go ahead and test out that new cell phone camera.”
2. Employ Child Labor. This is why I prefer fresh clams to canned ones: I can get my kid to scrub the clams with a wire brush and she actually thinks it’s fun and then later on in the process she can play with the shells. Always supervise Child Labor closely while exploiting it.
|Child labor shrubbing clams.|
3. Realize the down side of Child Labor is that tiny inexperienced fingers are kind of slow at scrubbing. But, hey, I’ve got time to peel and roughly dice up the potatoes and onions, chop the parsley and bacon, measure out the butter and milk, and generally make sure everything is ready to go. Also I should probably start cooking the bacon at medium low heat. I’m multi-tasking here but it’s bacon so it’s nearly impossible to mess up in such a way that it doesn’t taste awesome and I can just kind of keep an eye on it to make sure it remains unmolested by Child Labor who is now singing the “Fresh Beat Band” catalog in its entirety.
|Look! Chopped up onions, potatoes, and parsley!|
|Bacon in a frying pan. I feel like this should look way more appetizing than it does. I blame the cell phone camera.|
4. Toss the clams in the pot and cover with cold water. Boil water until clams pop open. Aside from the Child Labor, this is the only part of the recipe you actually have to watch super-closely. Once the shells pop open, they’re done. (It took about 5 minutes). If you keep on cooking the clams after that then they turn kind of rubbery and weird.
|Clams covered in cold water.|
|Pop! Open clams!|
|Clammy water. I can’t blame the camera for making this look grey and weird. It really does look like that.|
6. When bacon is crisp, remove and drain onto paper towels. Add onions and butter to the same pan and cook until softened scraping up any brown bits of bacon left in the pan. After about 5 minutes sample them because I really like bacon flavored onions and chefs always go on about the importance of tasting your food every step of the way so, hey, I’m just ensuring quality.
|Butter, onion, and browned bits in the frying pan.|
7. Scrape onion mixture into pot that previously contained clams. Add potatoes and 2 cups of the reserved clam liquid (if you used canned clams just add water until the liquid is 2 cups). Bring to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are cooked, about 15-30 minutes. (The finer the dice on the potatoes the sooner they’ll cook). Anything even remotely resembling hard work in the kitchen is over. Yay! Pour myself a glass of wine.
|Softened onions, potatoes, and clam liquid in the pot. Not pretty but on its way to being tasty.|
8. Have Child Labor remove most of the clams from the shells because she thinks shells are awesome and is somehow still on board with this process. Leave some clam in their shells so when you’re eating the chowder you’ll occasionally find a clam still in its shell because this is hilarious if you’re 3.5 years old. Plus clam shells can be used as “garnish” right? So this is mommy’n’me food styling. Chop up the clams. Or don’t. Whatever. Chunky chowder is good. It’s “rustic.” Child Labor amuses self by having a clam shell ‘eat’ the remainder of a bag of blue corn chips.
|“Clammy the clam” enjoys an appetizer|
10. Realize Child Labor has absconded with several empty clam shells while I went to use the bathroom and now there’s an anthropomorphized clam boy band disco happening on my kitchen table. But the clam shells were scrubbed and boiled and stuff, right? So it’s probably fine. Feel paranoid and google. Okay. Good. It’s fine. Take another sip of the wine.
|Hey, girl. We’re here for your pre-dinner enjoyment. We’re real clams.|
11. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Realize pepper mill is broken and we only have whole black peppercorns. Employ Child Labor to smash pepper corns with mortar and pestle. Child Labor is big into smashing stuff.
12. Cut up some crusty bread and serve.
In the immortal words of the children’s culinary icon Cookie Monster, “Omm-nom-nom-nom-nom.”