Last Week’s Dinner: New England Clam Chowder with Pancetta and Herbs

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I’m not all that picky when it comes to Manhattan vs. New England Clam Chowder. Frankly, I would just assume have a bunch of fish thrown into a pot with some tomatoes and eat the result. But, when it comes to clam chowder, I lean towards Manhattan but don’t discriminate. That said, if I am going to eat New England Clam Chowder, I want it to be thick. I want it to be slightly thinner than wallpaper paste. Runny New England Clam Chowder just doesn’t cut it. And that’s what this recipe yielded. Yes, it was designed to include corn, so I actually cut back on the liquid. It didn’t matter. Actually, adding frozen or canned corn would have only made it worse as the veggie would likely drop its liquid and thin the soup out further.

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Don’t get me wrong. The soup had a lot of flavor and the pork-fat base was a nice grease-and-salt treat. It was just far too soupy for me, which is a ridiculous statement since this is, you know, a soup recipe.

WHAT WORKED: Bacon is good, but I like pancetta more when it comes to building a base for soup or other dishes. It doesn’t create as much fat, but offers a richer flavor.

2013-12-03 at 17-48-22WHAT DIDN’T: The seeming lack of thickness.

WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: She seemed to like it, but dinner conversation revolved around work drama at her joint.

WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Like I said, the recipe is fine, but my other chowder came out much better.

New England Clam Chowder with Pancetta and Herbs
Adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 4 oz. pancetta, diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, chopped
  • 1 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 3/4 tsp. crushed dried rosemary
  • 3 tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 8 oz. unpeeled white-skinned potato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 6 1/2 oz. cans chopped clams in juice
  • Chopped fresh parsley

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Cook bacon in large saucepan over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour out all but 3 tablespoons drippings from pan. Add next 4 ingredients to pan; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over; stir 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add milk to pan, stirring constantly.

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Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium and cook until slightly thickened, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes, clams with juice, and drained corn. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide soup among bowls, sprinkle with bacon and parsley, and serve. 

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