Pacific Northwest Clam Chowder
A few notes on chowder technique: This recipe calls for half a bottle of beer. Do not go rogue and add more. (Too much beer will curdle the milk; just drink the remainder.) Once you add the milk, be careful not to let the chowder come to a full boil... that too will cause curdling. The bacon will be easier to dice if it's frozen in advance. Finally, and as always: be careful not to dump all of the clam cooking liquid into the chowder at once (there will be some grit on the bottom of the pot). Serves 6.
1/2 cup butter
6 stalks celery, diced small
3 yellow onions (medium-large), diced small
6 slices thick-cut bacon, diced small
1 large Yukon gold potato, diced small
2 large parsnips, diced small
1/2 cup rice flour or all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
5 cups milk, ideally 2% fat
4 pounds purple clams (a.k.a savory clams)
3/4 cup west coast IPA
1/4 cup tarragon, minced
1/2 cup parsley, minced
freshly ground black pepper
In a stockpot or dutch oven over medium heat, add the butter, celery, onion and bacon and sweat until the onion is translucent and the bacon is glossy, about 8-10 minutes. (You are not looking for any kind of browning or crispness here.)
Add the potatoes, parsnips, flour and salt and stir with a spatula until everything is evenly coated in flour. Add the milk and simmer until the potatoes and parsnips are very tender, about 25-30 minutes. (Remember: no boiling!) Stir frequently, scraping the bottom to prevent sticking.
In a separate pot over high heat, add the beer and the clams and cook, covered, until the clams open, 4-5 minutes. Line a strainer with cheesecloth and drain, reserving the liquid. Fish the clam meat out of the shells with your fingers and dump the shells at your local midden.
When the potatoes are done, add the clams, the clam/beer broth, and the tarragon and parsley. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary. Serve with lots of freshly ground black pepper.