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advice on thickening clam chowder.. - Page 2

post #31 of 50

okay, just another way to skin this cat! new england clam chowder is on our menu and is a huge seller so i make big pots weekly..here's mine....cook diced peppered applewood smoked bacon and the diced onions together..when baccon is cooked but still soft and the onions are browned i add flour to make sort of a lazy man's roux right in the pan. then sherry, clam juice, potatoes(baby red skins) and cream...bring to a boil, then med  heat to cook the potatoes and reduce the cream. add more sherry, seasonings(thyme, salt,cracked black pepper), when potatoes are tender and the cream has reduced and thickened, i add the clam meat and just heat til clams are warmed through...check the seasonings...usually i add a bit more salt...we serve it with oyster crackers on top.....

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #32 of 50

Hi there,

 

Traditionally, New England Clam chowders are made by first rendering salt pork or bacon (over medium low heat) and then sweating very small diced onions and celery in that mixture, or some other white mirepoix combo.  You may at this point add some more fat if you are going to make the roux in the Singer method, meaning as part of the overall process, like I do.  At this point add flour and stir to combine to create a blond or white roux.  It's important to have the right amount of fat in the pan in order to successfully make this type of soup.  As an aside, I think you experienced all of that foam from cooking your bacon at too high of a tempurature.  Also, it should be small dice, as the mirepoix.

 

Now at the same time as you are rendering and sweating all of your base ingredients, in a covered pot, steam your clams in stock or water until just opened, if doing it this way.  Otherwise, just add your fresh clams when you are ready to simmer--or canned clams when you are closer to being done.   

 

Now at this point, it's just a matter of fully incorporating your stock (clam stock from the steamed clams, chicken stock or fish), simmering, skimming if necessary and adding various flavoring ingredients at the proper intervals.  After the stock has been fully incporporated and no lumps are present, many add small-dice russet or baking potatoes at this point.  This also helps to thicken and give a great clam chowder texture.  Once potatoes are tender, the chowder may be finished with an amount of creams that's about 25% or so of your total stock volume.  Chowders generally require roughly an hour of simmering time in order to properly thicken and to develop the right flavors.

 

As an additional aside, if the chower is going to be cooled and then refrigerated immediately after preparing, it's best to finish it with cream once you reheat because of the high perishability of cream.  In a restaurant, chowders are generally finished in batches, in part because of this. 

 

So that's roughly it.  I hope that helps.   


Edited by sarahg - 10/22/11 at 1:23pm
post #33 of 50

Everyone has their favorite way. As log as it comes out good and customer enjoys, thats thew main thing.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #34 of 50

no cornstarch in the kitchen?

 

post #35 of 50

When you work in a real upscale French kitchen most of the Ex. Chefs will not permit certain ingredients.. A slurry of flour is also not allowed. Your sauces had to be either reduced or roux or puree based, Years ago this is the way it was . Today all kinds of thickeners are used for the sake of speed and profit. Corn starch was only allowed to be used by the Pattisierre.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #36 of 50

You should also mention that if you use stock from real clams it should be double strained thru cheesecloth so as no sand gets into final chowder., in addition clams should be scrubbed first.

 Also ask one of your Senior instructors re. use of only poatato as a thickener as years ago this is the way it was done. Also when held at to high a temp in soup bain marie the soup will break.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #37 of 50

It took years to get all the facts of her secret recipe from my aunt on Cape Cod, MA     This is how it goes:   Make your Clam Chowder according to your own recipe.  Yes, raw potatoes will help thicken the chowder but the key is to leave the lid OFF and simmer slowly for 2 -3 hours "Don't let it boil" and stir every 20 minutes.    p.s. Light cream works better than milk and make sure you cut the potatoes big enough, they will shrink.   p.p.s  no bacon!  

ENJOY New England Clam Chowder.

post #38 of 50

True about cornstarch, only for fruit sauces or Asian sauces (teriyaki), I use a butter roux, with just a little bacon fat, adds great flavor to chowder, I make it seperate and add to boiling clam stock, cook my bacon, onions, celery seperate, strain off fat and add to chowder, also add potatoes shortly after roux and simmer for some time so the roux cooks all the way in. Reheat chowder and half and half right before service. After making thousands of gallons of chowder this is the way I get best results, any other way adds to much liquid to roux during cooking process and can affect thickening and may make the chowder break. Being from the West coast, I have met many East coasters (New England, Boston) who know all about seafood, always makes me smile.

post #39 of 50

I have seen pea soup and clam chowder with instant potato added to help thcken. One good thing is when you use this  method  the soup will not seperate in the steamtable.

 

Other then this tip I agree with Chef Curtis on his method. If you do not have bacon fat back will do.

 

Cornstarch is hash house style in my opinion.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #40 of 50

if you would like, I have a very nice crab chowder that can easily adapt to your clam for next time, you can email me direct if you like and I will forward it to you, the one big key for you would be to cut potatoes smaller and a larger amount of them, I stay away from flurries simply because of flavor, butter roux, in my view, is much more in depth. Once the roux is made, take and ladle in the cream and thicken it that way, you can always add more roux and repeat.  Email back if you would like me to forward a very simple Chowder to you. 

 

Thanks for your post, would of answered sooner but we were setting up our own Kitchen. 

John R. Meyer

post #41 of 50

Thickening a chowder affects flavor. Adding starch tends to cloud the flavor of the clams. If you do it with potato, you can get shift the flavor balance even more.

 

Reduction is appealing, but tricky with dairy, and tends to drive off some of the clam flavor as well.

 

Preferences also vary regionally; there is no one true chowder.

 

With those things in mind, it seems to me that a recipe for chowder really has to be carefully constructed from the start with a specific end point in mind. If you didn't get there when you're done, you probably can't fix it at that point and preserve the best qualities of the chowder.

 

My preferences.

 

pervasive clam flavor

dairy richness

generous amount of clams

lighter on the vegetables

fairly dense

light salt--many chowders are overly salted--I find that lemon juice and hot sauce can bring up the flavors without the high salt.

 

There are some contradictory requirements. Dairy and density work against clam flavor for example.

 

The recipe I've been using for a dozen years or so at this point and remains my favorite works with a 51 oz can of clams. If I lived on a coast and had better access to fresh clams at reasonable prices, I'd do something different, I'm pretty sure.

 

The vegetables are simmered in the clam broth with a little wine, herbs and seasonings. This flavors melds the flavors well and is a quick enough cooking to preserve the character of the ingredients.

 

Meanwhile, I cook roux. When the vegetables are done, I mix in the roux. It becomes quite thick, like cookie dough almost. Now add the dairy-half and half is my preference to the desired thickness, Add the clams and heat until hot. No additional simmering or boiling.  Correct with lemon juice and hot sauce to taste. Worcestershire is good too, but is usually sufficient from the earlier seasonings that includes it.

 

no bacon or salt pork. detracts from the clams and flavor balance. Sure, i've had some good chowders with it, but I tend to prefer clam chowder without it. For a corn chowder, give me bacon. My sisters did a drive up the west coast sampling chowders all the way. When I served them mine, they ranked it in the top 3 of what they had eaten. The first question they asked was if I used bacon or salt pork so it figured heavily in what they had eaten along the way.

 

The comment above about simmering a clam chowder for 2 hours just scares me. Dairy nor clam liquor/juice will take that abuse and keep good flavor and texture. And please, don't have the clams or vegies in there for that time!

post #42 of 50

For any chowder I use everytime raw potatoes...you cook them and then blend inside soup...potato starch is little gluey, exact thing waht you need here...but you can use flour or make roux, as well...but everytime pour icy cold liquid (stock, water, milk..)..it prevents flour to goes lumpy.....pure corn starch or potato starch is good for fast cuisine, but do not use too much, because it absorbs flavour, what is never apropriate...

post #43 of 50

Many places used canned clams these are tough and salty. The clams should be dded last if canned are used the juice from the clams cn be used right away. If you boil the clams they get tougher.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #44 of 50

try to cook it without the cover on top cause the cover makes mosture. try to make a rue using the broth from soup and flour or cornstarsh, I would probably use cornstarsh. That's my opion, I'm sure it will be ok, also wait till the next day after it's been refrig. overnight, it sometimes thickens. If i'm wrong please let me know. take care it will be fine.

post #45 of 50
Thread Starter 

Welcome to cheftalk lovestocook54!

 

This thread has been inactive for about 5 months. In general we should try to reply to the threads that have been posted more recently.

 

I read back through this and realized I was trying to make what I understood to be clam chowder because I mostly had only ever eaten it out of a can. It does not need to be very thick but if I were to cook it today I would pre cook the diced potatoes, reserve most but use the rest with a little milk or clam stock and use my immersion blender to create a potato slurry. I think I'd prefer a chowder with enough thickness that it just barely coats a spoon with a light film and small pieces of celery/potato/onion. The celery and onion should be minced so that they meld into the sauce of the chowder. Clams added last and just brought up to temp. Kill the heat and serve with some crusty bread.

 

I've matured a lot in two years in terms of my culinary knowledge, thanks in part to many of the great folks that participate on this forum.

post #46 of 50
Last time I made clam chowder, I thickened it with potatoes. It was wonderful. Works on oyster stew too.
post #47 of 50
I cook the raw potatoes in the milk and mash them up a bit toward the end. This helps a little. I also whisk in a little masa (I add corn to mine, so the corn flavor is already there). At the end, I dump in a ton of grated cheese and simmer slowly until it's nice and creamy. With all those things going toward the thickening, I've never had a problem. IMO, clam chowder is one of those things that needs to cook long and slow. I'd never use a roux, but that's me. As long as you already started with a roux, you could try whisking in some gold ol' Wondra. If it was good enough for our mothers and grandmothers, well, we can use it too.
post #48 of 50

The ingredients speak for themselves.

Get the best that you can find.

This is a very simple dish.....therefore, all the ingredients must be sublimely perfect.

Do not let your soup, milk based, keep on a boil.

Yuck....flour and thickening agents other than the small chopped very good quality potatoes.

That is the clue here.

I do appreciate a bit of corn in the chowder.

You could make your own creamed corn and add...that would provide a lot more thickening.

Add a tiny bit of good quality bacon first....onions....

That gets the Party started!

Remember...the best clams, cream. Only the best.

Some fresh snipped chives on top at the end makes everyone happy!

post #49 of 50

eastshores,

   I prefer a classic Blonde Roux myself. However, if you want to know a 'quick fix' which works surprisingly well that keeps on track with your flavor profile try adjusting the consistency with Potato Pearls (instant mashed potatoes). Baby Reds are in the potato category called 'Waxy' vs. 'Starchy' which are your Russets. You will get more thickening power with a starchy potato vs. waxy potato. However the baby reds are fine and will hold together better especially if you are making bulk which requires added stirring through the cooling process and then the re-heat process. added tip: if you want a bit more of a heart-healthy dish i would suggest making a Clam 'Veloute' and towards the end of the cooking process just 'cream' it with some heavy cream. It is also less expensive as you use much less dairy product. :)

post #50 of 50

I use both types of potatos in chowders to capilalized on the benefits of each.

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