Sunday, January 13, 2008

East Hampton Clam Chowder

Ina Garten, I have no words. The Barefoot Contessa is one of those chefs that I watch on the Food Network that I watch knowing I'll never make any of her recipes. There was one episode where she used 9 sticks of butter in one meal! My arteries clogged up just watching. Last weekend, my husband and I were happily spending the whole weekend on the couch, vegging out in front of the TV. When Ina made this soup, my husband said, "Thats it? I thought chowder would be so complicated." I offered to try it this weekend (with slight modifications to accommodate my dietary preferences).

One word: wow! I cut down slightly on the amount of butter and flour and I used 2% milk instead of whole milk (which actually surprised me that she used. No cream for the Contessa?). I also used Yukon Gold potatoes instead of boiling potatoes. I thought this was a mistake at first because a lot of them broke down, but then realized that it was actually a blessing in disguise. The broken down potatoes help thicken the chowder, making up for the lighter milk and decreased amounts of butter and flour. I also used clam strips, rather than Ina's suggested whole-belly clams. The girl at the fish market recommended strips over the whole bellies. She said the whole clams would discolor the chowder and make it brown. The strips were a perfect choice. They also chopped them up for me. One less thing for me to do! I heart my fish market.

Original recipe

10 tablespoons light butter, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
1 1/2 cups medium-diced celery (4-5 medium stalks)
1 1/2 cups medium-diced carrots (2 large carrots)
4 cups peeled medium-diced Yukon Gold potatoes (4 large potatoes)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups clam juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low-fat 2% milk
3 cups fresh, chopped clam strips (approx. 1 1/2 pounds)

Melt 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of the butter in a large heavy-bottomed stockpot. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until translucent. Add the celery, carrots, potatoes, thyme, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 more minutes. Add the clam juice, bring to a boil, and simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

In a small pot, melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter and whisk in the flour. Cook over very low heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in a cup of the hot broth from the pot and then pour this mixture back into the cooked vegetables. Simmer for a few minutes until the broth is thickened.

Add the milk and clams and heat gently for a few minutes to cook the clams. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Yields 10-12 servings (1 serving = 1 heaping 1/2 cup)

WW info: 4 points per serving.


Allison said...

This looks great! I love Ina's stuff but agree that most of her recipes are very butter oriented!

Bexxie said...

mmm I love clam chowder! It looks great!

Leah said...

Nice job on the chowda' -- I know what you mean about Ina. I've been following her for years and she adds about 5 lbs with each new episode! Her recipes are foolproof tho'. I've made the chowder recipe before, but next time I'll follow your lighter tips. I could use a little WW right now myself. ~ Leah

Patti said...

I love Ina and I love Weight Watchers . . . thanks for this post.

Neen said...

FYI, I am making this as we speak (my laptop is propped up on the kitchen counter and I've just reached the simmer-the-veggies stage), and will be posting on it tomorrow, with kudos to your blog of course!