Although I have multiple options for chowder and sourdough bread here in Seattle, I happen to love my version of clam chowder. My recipe has evolved over many years. It is not pasty, or all potatoes and it has plenty of clams! Since Santa left sourdough starter and a crock under the tree, I thought the combination of fresh bread and hot chowder would be a perfect alternative to the heavy holiday foods we have been eating!
I fired up the starter according to the directions. Due to getting a late start, this included a 2:00 AM “feeding”! Yikes. I am now responsible for a living, breathing thing. I’ve named my starter “George”. It is definitely alive and growing rapidly, as it was spewing over the sides of the container this morning. Yikes again. Let’s hope I can manage to keep it alive. Any and all advice is welcome!
Rustic Sourdough Bread, from King Arthur Flour Company website
1 cup “fed” sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix until a smooth ball of dough forms and dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. You may need a little more flour.
Allow the dough to rise, in a covered bowl, until it’s doubled in size, about 90 minutes.
Gently divide the dough in half; it’ll deflate somewhat.
Shape the dough into two 10″ to 11″ logs. Place the loaves on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. (The next time I make this, I will make 4 baguettes, as the loaves are quite substantial.) Cover and let rise about 1 hour. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°.
Spray the loaves with lukewarm water.
Make fairly deep diagonal slashes in each; a serrated bread knife works well.
Bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes, until it’s a very deep golden brown. Remove it from the oven, and cool on a rack.
Laura’s Clam Chowder
Bacon – 4-6 strips, diced
Onion – one large, sweet yellow onion diced – about 1 cup
Celery-4-6 ribs diced – about 1 cup
Red or gold potato, skin on – about 8 small diced – about 2 cups
Lemon grass – one large stalk, outer layer peeled off, cut into 4, 2″-3″ pieces and smashed
Tarragon – about 1 teaspoon dry
Parsley- about 2 tablespoons freshly chopped, plus a little more for garnish
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup of flour
2 Tablespoons of butter
Dry vermouth – about 3/4 cup
Canned clams and broth – one large 52 ounce can (drain broth, set clams aside)
½ and ½ – real or fat free or combination, about 1 quart (Did you know the chowder you are served in restaurants is made with Heavy Whipping Cream. That is why it is so silky and rich.)
Sauté chopped bacon in a heavy bottom soup pot, until crispy. Remove from pan, drain. Add some olive oil to pan and add chopped onion and diced celery, sauté about 5 minutes. Return the bacon to pan. Add 3-4 sprigs of lemon grass, a teaspoon of tarragon, salt and white pepper. Add the diced potatoes. Sauté until slightly soft.
Remove all the vegetables and bacon from the pan. Make a light rue by adding the butter to the pan and whisking in the flour. Stir well to incorporate the flour into the butter. Add the dry vermouth and reduce by about half.
Return the vegetables and bacon to the pan. Add the clam broth. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer until thickened – about an hour.
(If not ready to eat in an hour or two, put the “base” in the refrigerator .) Add the ½ and ½ and clams and heat until warm. Do not let boil. Ladle into warm bowls and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.