Forager Fresh Clam Chowder
As an Oregon coast clammer, I wanted to make a recipe that showcased the actual clams as opposed to a creamy milk or tomato that some recipes use. This chowder would be really easy to make at camp or even at the beach right after you’ve foraged a bucket of clams. I recently came back with a pound from the beach and added in a second pound from the store to make up the difference. If you’re new to clamming, keep and eye out, I will be posting a full breakdown on it in the blog section of my website. This would be a really fun activity for friends, show them how to clam and cook with them afterwards. It makes for an incredible day on the Oregon coast as well. My clams are from Netarts Bay, but there are plenty of clamming opportunities on most coasts. Make sure you check with your local wildlife department for any warnings before going.
2 slices of bacon, cut into small strips
2 yellow onions, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
4 waxy potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme, stems removed
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
2 lbs fresh clams
3 c water
2 c half and half
2 tbsp butter
If your clams are freshly foraged and need purged, put them in a bowl of fresh water for half and hour so they will release their sand. This step can be skipped if you purchased your clams from the store. Next, in a large skillet with high sides, add two cups of water and the clams. Put the lid on and cook on the highest heat until the clams open. They will probably open at different times so start checking after three minutes. As they open, transfer them to a bowl off the side. Don’t throw the water they cooked in away, this will be a broth that adds a rich clam flavor to the chowder.
Next, in a large pot add your bacon and let it start to sizzle stirring it often. Add in your potatoes, celery, onions and garlic. Sweat these for about 10 minutes or until the celery and onions start to soften up. Add in your time and parsley along with the reserved broth. Add in the water and bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer for 20 minutes.
While you wait, do anymore pushing/purging of sand from your fresh clams and push from bottom up to get the digestive tract out. This can be a scary site for someone that hasn’t seen one, but don’t worry it’s not a worm or parasite. I did some feverish googling over it. Dump the collected juice from the bowl while they sat into your simmering base. Chop the clams into small pieces. Add the half-and-half to the clams for the remainder of the time. This will serve to soften the clams.
Add in the half-and-half an clam mix along with the butter and stir until the butter is melted. Serve immediately hot along with oyster crackers, hot sauce, crusty baguette and some fresh parsley.