Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cliff House Clam Chowder and Cliff House Spice Blend


I love soup.  Really.  I could eat it everyday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  I love making it and eating it.  And I love so many kinds of soup.  But if I were put in a corner and had to come up with a Top Three, Clam Chowder would always make the cut.  More specifically, New England Clam Chowder.

And I have made a lot of NECC and a bunch of different recipes.  But hands down, I think this is my favorite. It comes from the Cliff House Restaurant in Ogunquit, ME.

Two reasons:  1) it's simply, utterly delicious and I always keep everything needed in my pantry so I can make it without much notice.  2)  it comes with a spice blend that is, for me, the perfect seasoning for this chowda.

Now, there are gonna be some New Englanders who will no doubt debate my choice for eternity.  But isn't that one of the great things about this country:  we are all entitled to our opinion.  But for those of us who don't live in clam country and rely on canned clams and clam juice for an outstanding meal, this will not disappoint.

Two notes:
One:  This spice blend recipe listed after the recipe makes an amount that will make many pots of this soup.  DO NOT USE THE ENTIRE AMOUNT IN ONE RECIPE OF THE SOUP!!!!!! Keep the remainder in an air-tight container in your frig.....mine has kept for over a year.
Two:  While this recipe calls for half-and-half, you can certainly use any kind of milk.....full fat, reduced-fat, fat-free.  However, if you use the reduced-fat or fat-free milk, you may want to add some instant potatoes at serving time to thicken the chowder. But don't add it during cooking or it won't thicken as much.

CLIFF HOUSE CLAM CHOWDER (2-4 servings)

1 slice bacon, minced
1/2 tsp butter
1 cup onion, minced
1 tsp fresh garlic
1 tsp Cliff House Spice Blend (recipe below)
1 Tbsp flour
1 can clams (6 1/2 oz)
1 cup bottled clam juice
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1/4 tsp white pepper
2 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled, and diced (I prefer baked red-skinned potatoes, with skins left on for prettier presentation)

In a heavy-bottomed two quart soup pot, saute butter, bacon, onion, garlic, and spice blend over low heat.  Do not allow to burn.  Drain clams and set aside, reserving the juice.  Slowly stir the flour and clam juices in the saute mixture.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat.  Add milk and simmer 20 minutes.  Add white pepper, potatoes, and clams.  Heat to serving temperature.  Do not allow to boil, as this toughens the clams.

CLIFF HOUSE SPICE BLEND

4 tsp dried oregano
4 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp dried marjoram
2 tsp dried dill
2 tsp dried thyme
4 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried sage
4 tsp dried rosemary
2 tsp dried tarragon
1 Tbsp flour

Crush with a mortar and pestle.  Store in an air-tight container and keep in refrigerator.

Recipe Source:  www.gonewengland.about.com/morerecipes/r/recclfschowder.html

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