Top | Fat of the Land
Razor Clam Chowder
(recipe, Langdon Cook)
My grandmother Mimi used to make a New England-style fish chowder when all the relatives gathered on Cape Cod for the Fourth of July weekend. I can remember watching epic tennis matches between Björn Borg and John McEnroe while slurping down the chowder with a lot of oyster crackers thrown in for good measure.
But once Mimi was gone, the recipe was too. I've tried to re-create it with both clams and cod, and after consulting with numerous cousins, aunts, and uncles over the years, I'm pretty sure I've almost got it. A key ingredient is thyme. And don't even consider making this chowder without bacon.
- 4 to 5 strips (about ¼ pound) of thick, quality bacon, diced
- 1 large onion, sliced into wide half-moons
- 2 to 3 cups peeled and cubed red potatoes
- 3 Tbsp. butter
- 3 Tbsp. flour
- 1 qt. chicken stock or clam juice, or a mixture of both
- 1 heaping teaspoon dried thyme
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 pt. heavy cream (or half-and-half)
- 2 cups chopped razor clams (with as much juice as can be salvaged)
- Sauté the bacon in a heavy pot over medium heat until crispy; remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel.
- Sauté the onions for a few minutes in the bacon fat. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes start to brown slightly. Remove the onion-potato mixture and set aside.
- Melt the butter in the same pot and slowly mix in the flour to make a roux. The roux is ready when it starts to color up, turning a faint yellowish and then pinkish. Slowly add the stock. Return the onions and potatoes to the pot and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Add the thyme and seasonings. Slowly stir in the cream, then add clams and cook over low heat another 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Sprinkle with the reserved bacon, crumbled if desired. Serve hot with good bread or oyster crackers.