One recent Summer afternoon at Sam's Chowder House, I enjoyed some of the best New England clam chowder I'd ever had. Ever since, then, I've had lingering thoughts of making an inspired version at home, which was further encouraged when I came across a copy of The Summer Shack Cookbook, in which I earmarked a promising recipe for fresh-from-scratch, authentic New England clam chowder.
The recipe calls for quahogs, the unofficial chowder clam of New England, but since those aren't widely available on the West Coast, I substituted them with Manila clams. You can use any kind that works for you. For a taste of the ocean, read more. 10 pounds small quahogs or large cherrystone clams Makes 3 quarts; serves 12 as an appetizer or 6 to 8 as a main course.
2 cups water
4 ounces meaty salt pork, rind removed and cut into small (1/3-inch) dice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium yellow onions (about 12 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 stalks celery (4 ounces), cut into 1/3-inch dice
5 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped (1 tablespoon)
1 large dried bay leaf
2 pounds Yukon Gold, Maine, PEI, or other all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch dice
2 cups heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher or sea salt if needed
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
10 pounds small quahogs or large cherrystone clams
Makes 3 quarts; serves 12 as an appetizer or 6 to 8 as a main course.