I'm so excited to start sharing recipes from the brand new Outlander Kitchen Cookbook! This continuation of hearty historically driven dishes draws inspiration from the New World that Jamie and Claire find themselves in. There are so many yummy meals to try!
I wasn't sure which to start with but a marvelous opportunity presented itself. My mom suggested we come for a visit to celebrate my dad's birthday and fathers day, which are close together. He has always preferred home cooked meals, much to my teenage dismay, so I thought it would be fun to surprise him with a home-made treat! I settled on Savannah Clam Chowder!
Clam Chowder is so far from what I usually try to attempt so I thought it would be a great challenge. One new experience presented itself quickly, I had never actually ordered anything from the deli counter, let alone purchased 4 pounds of clams. I felt like a real wifey...should have had a kerchief tied around my head to keep my freshly curled hair in place. Besides my new vintage 50s wife fantasy, all other ingredients were easily found and I was on my way toward Chowder dominance! Let's start this journey...
For the first step in making chowder, you need to prep the clams. Add clams and two cups of water to a dutch oven type pot, bringing them to a boil. The shells should open in about 4 to 8 minutes. Go ahead and discard any that do not open. Side note, don't be swayed by their salty smell and sandy goo, fresh clams are the best choice. It really made a difference taste wise. Also, 4 pounds sound like a lot but the weight is mainly from its shells.
Transfer the clams to a pot using a slotted spoon and filter the excess water through a cheese cloth and save, adding in fresh water to equal about 6 cups. Once the clams cool off, go ahead and pull the meat from their shells and set aside. If the clam meat is large just chop into more bite-sized pieces.
While waiting for the clams to cool, I went ahead and prepped the other ingredients for the chowder. Chopping up 1 large onion, 2 stalks of celery, 8 ounces of salt pork and about 2 pounds of yellow potatoes.
In the cleaned dutch oven, cook the pork until golden and transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Pour off any excess fat from the pan, leaving about 1/4 cup in the pan to cook with. Add the diced onions and celery, cooking until onions are translucent and golden. When the pork was ready to remove I didn't have a lot of grease left but the veggies cooked well anyways, so don't fret.
Next stir in 1 minced garlic clove, 1 tablespoon fresh thyme and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper. My dad doesn't like too much spice so I was pretty light handed with the pepper. However I served Craig's with a great deal more sprinkled on top.
After stirring for about 30 seconds add in 1/4 cup of flour, stirring for 2 minutes. This is when you add the clam broth/water you had saved, 2 bay leaves and the diced yellow potatoes. I chose to use little potatoes that wouldn't need to be peeled. They also cooked much quicker. After adding in the clam broth I was nervous that the soup would be...well...too soupy. But the water cooked down a little and the potatoes added much needed starch.
Bring soup to a simmer over medium heat and let cook for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. I checked the potatoes by sticking them with a fork, if they fall off, you are good to go!
After removing the bay leaves, add in the salt pork, 2 cups of light cream and most importantly the clams! Finally right!? Stir the chowder and increase the temperature until the soup is 'piping hot'. Do not boil. Season with salt and pepper, as you like, and you are ready to serve. Voila! Home-made clam chowder!
The Outlander Cookbook shows the chowder in two rustic bowls which is just lovely but I thought it would be even better to serve the chowder in sourdough rolls! Before you ask, no I did not make the sourdough but I did think about it he he! This little detail really turned out nicely.
Okay, not to brag but my dad was impressed with my chowder skills! Thanks to Theresa Carle-Sanders I served a wonderfully rich lunch that reminded him of past trips to the east coast! It was simplistic but not overpoweringly creamy and really let the ingredients speak for themselves. The salt pork was the main note, cutting back on the brininess of the clams, but the thyme brought an earthy flavor which was really nice. Such a great treat! My dad didn't even mind the hint of spice!
The only negative will be pandora's box that I just opened. He's going to expect more of these home-cooked meals now he he!
Thanks for readin!