Home Food & Wine How to Cook Clam Chowder

How to Cook Clam Chowder

Photo provided by Andrew of aspiringgentleman.com
Photo provided by Andrew of aspiringgentleman.com

Hearty foods and hearty wines are the name of the game over the next few months, and a chowder recipe should be in the back pocket of every aspiring gentleman. I love this recipe because of the simplicity of the method which to cook clam chowder, which basically involves using 2 pots in tandem to arrive at a rich, delicious chowder. 1 pot I use to combine the meat ingredients, while the other I use for the vegetable-based ingredients. At the end they come together. Start with some of the basics on your shopping list for a New England style chowder:

1 Onion

2 Celery Stalks

2 Large Carrots

4 Red skin Potaoes

1/2 Head of corn (a small can will work)

White Wine (neutral but full bodied, try southern Rhone white)


Fresh Salmon filet

1/2 pound of fresh prawns, peeled (heads are optional and add flavour)

1 Can of clam nectar

1 Can of baby clams in nectar

2 cups of cream or milk

Butter, Corn Starch, Salt, Pepper, Herbs, Water

Vegetable Pot

In the first pot, melt some butter over medium-high heat and add diced onions and let them brown. Deglaze the pot with 1 cup of the white wine, then add the potatoes(cubed) and the carrots and celery(sliced). Add the clam nectar and drain the clam nectar from the clams into the pot. Set the clams themselves aside. Fill the pot with enough water to bring the fluid above the vegetables, hopefully about a cup. Cook the vegetables until soft, adding water if you need to keep them submerged. If you are adding fresh corn instead of canned, start roasting or grilling it now so that it has time to soften.

Meat Pot

While this is cooking in one pan you can start the meat pan. Again add some butter, and this time some bacon (diced). Add in salmon(cubed) and prawns, again you want them to be browned slightly and not burnt. When the salmon and prawns are cooked about 70-80% of how you like them, put them and the now-fried bacon aside, I usually put them in the bowl that already has the clams in it. This pan gets deglazed with half of the milk or cream(I usually use 10%) at a low to medium heat so as not to scald. Whisk the other half with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, then whisk it into the pan of warm milk slowly to thicken the mixture.

Now that you veggies are soft and cooked, you can add your corn, and start adding the cream mixture slowly to the veggie pot, which will drop the temperature of the mixture. Add the seafood from its bowl and bring the temperature of the chowder back up to hot which will finish cooking the seafood. Add salt and pepper and herbs to taste. Personally I use tyme, tarragon and Old Bay. I like to serve my chowder with the remaining wine and some fresh sourdough. The beauty of this recipe is that you can add or subtract vegetables and seafood (like clams or mussels in the shell) at will to cater to your own personal taste, creating your own signature bowl.