Monday, March 3, 2014

Homemade Old Fisherman's Grotto Clam Chowder!

A much need wet weekend for California this week and with a weekend like this, it simply screams indoors, blankets, warm fires, roasted marshmallows, hot chocolate, and everything wintery. What's my pick? A cup of hot soup of course! 

What better way to be stuck inside than getting the kitchen fired up?! Ever since my little field trip to Monterey, I've been thinking about having to venture into making some clam chowder of my own and to my lucky stars, there's a recipe for just that and supposedly an original recipe from the restaurant! 

Usually when I scan over a recipe I try to tweak a few things here and there to make a slightly healthier version, this one is just bad from the beginning...but bad in a delicious, heart stopping, soul fulfilling kind of way though. Not wanting to stray too far from the original I thought it'd be best to just make it as the recipe states for once and then next time make the necessary adjustments for a less heart stopping yummy goodness. Plus its hard to make adjustments in something you really don't have much knowledge in a way of how you can keep the texture and flavor while cutting some stuff out. 

The thick creamy soups I've made in the past I usually use potatoes as a thickener so that we can cut out the flour, butter, and creams and those turn out really good. However I've made those from scratch and usually come up with things as I go. I've already tasted this chowder from the restaurant now I wanted to see how authentic this recipe really is, if I make adjustments and it tastes different, would that be due to my tweaks or the recipe? I guess its the scientist in me that wants to analysis the living daylights out of something but essentially I wanted to create a control and the only way to do that is to follow the recipe as exact as possible and then for a future experiment make the proposed changes and see if it compares to the control.

Well enough science talk, so how did this control turn out? Several things to make note of: 
  1. I love potatoes so I decided to get a larger one: the chowder turned out so thick because I also used the amount of flour the recipe called for... had been thinning it with milk each time I warm up a batch... hasn't changed the flavor or anything and somehow managed to find a way to tweak the recipe, yay!
  2. Butter, cream, dairy products galore!! I ended up being a wuss and couldn't put all the butter in... it was just too scary and knowing I was also going to put all that other creamy things in too... it was a lot. For future reference, as I had already made suggestions to the recipe, I don't think all that is necessary. Its rich enough, a cup or 2 less of the cream wouldn't take much away from the chowder.
  3. Cooking if for 2 hours is definitely not necessary unless I did it wrong but my chowder was ready for consumption after about 20-30 minutes of cooking after the final step. 
  4. Its delicious! Mine was a little thick but I put in some fat free milk to thin it to the right consistency and all was well.
  5. The recipe didn't call for any salt as I'd imagine normal bacon has plenty of salt but since I changed my bacon option and also adding more liquid in I also put a dash of salt in as well. I don't eat salty or anything but salt does enhance flavors. Just a thought
Old Fisherman's Grotto Clam Chowder (personal commentary in orange)
makes 10-12 servings (approx 1 cup per serving size), 450 calories
recipe from examiner.com: old fishermans grotto clam chowder

Ingredients:
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium potato, diced (I used a relatively large potato, so if that's the case, you can cut down on flour)
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced (and if you're like me and dislike celery, dice even finer pieces so they disappear when you cook it)
  • 1/2 lb of bacon (I used 1/4lb Canadian bacon and 1/4lb regular to try and cut down on the fattiness)
  • 16 fl oz clam juice, approx 2 cups (or 480ml ...which 500ml wouldn't change much either)
  •  1 1/2 cup of all purpose flour (honestly 3/4 cup is plenty if you use a large potato)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 2 cups of heavy cream (I would change this to just regular fat free milk or 2%)
  • 2 cups of half and half (yah... this is basically the same as cream + milk mixed but who knows maybe it makes a difference...)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 lb of clams, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp of clam base (optional, and I didn't even know what it is so I skipped it altogether)
  • 1 stick of butter (scary! I couldn't bring myself to do it...so I used half)
  • salt as needed 
Procedures:
  1. Place veggies, bacon, and butter into a 5qt or larger pot and saute over medium heat until vegetables are tender. 
  2. Add in flour once vegetables are tender to make a roux (what??). Cook for approx 2 minutes allowing flour to cook while stirring.
  3. Add in clam juice and dairy products. Stir with a metal whisk for better results
  4. Add in garlic, pepper, clams, and clam base. Cook over medium heat while stir occasionally so that scorching doesn't occur. Cook for 2 hours or until desired thickness. (I cooked it for 20-30 minutes and it was thick already so really, 30 minutes is plenty of time to cook this in my opinion)

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