Sunday, December 30, 2012

Clam Chowder

For Rem’s birthday we started out the day by making some paleo sausage gravy and biscuits from the Paleo Comfort Foods cookbook.  Thanks to my grandpa for getting us that cookbook for Christmas!  I highly recommend it.  The sausage gravy and biscuits were really delicious, filling, and what I thought would be the best meal of the day.  Well, I was wrong!  I asked Rem what he wanted for his birthday dinner and he said clam chowder sounded good.  After looking at several recipes, we decided which ingredients we wanted to use and headed to Giant Eagle, where we found everything we needed (except the bacon, which was already in the fridge at home).  We wanted to make a very rich soup so we were hoping to find grass grazed heavy cream, and we were in luck!  Giant Eagle not only carries Snowville Creamery whole milk, but Snowville Creamery heavy whipping cream as well.  Snowville is a local creamery that produces milk from cows that graze on grass and hay.  

Any meal that starts with cooking bacon (and fills your house with the amazing smell!) is bound to be delicious, so we had high hopes from the start that the chowder was going to be good.  In short, this was probably the best thing we’ve ever made.  It was insanely rich, creamy, and decadent. The bacon was also an absolutely essential ingredient in the chowder, adding a smoky flavor and crispy texture to the velvety soup.   The crispiness of the bacon, soft chunks of vegetables and clams, and creamy base provided a delicious contrast in texture in every bite. The heavy whipping cream really stole the show, making this a creamier soup than we’d ever had before.  In the past we had made chowder with skim milk, and I’m not going to lie, it just doesn’t compare to cream in any way.  We have since learned about the health benefits of grass grazed milk and cream, so while we know this dish is not a “light”, everyday dish by any means, it is very wholesome, using natural, high quality, and nutrient rich ingredients.  If you’re looking for a hearty and rich soup for a cold winter day, this is it.  I’m craving it as I type this.  Luckily there are still leftovers in the fridge.  Try it and tell us what you think! 

Clam Chowder

1 lb. applewood smoked bacon (we used Trader Joe’s applewood smoked bacon ends and pieces)
1 stalk celery, diced
1 onion, diced
4 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 large potatoes, diced (with the peel on)
Salt and pepper
1 heaping T arrowroot powder (or you could probably use cornstarch)
4 cups grass grazed whole milk (we used Snowville Creamery whole milk)
2 cups grass grazed heavy whipping cream (we used Snowville Creamery heavy whipping cream)
1 T dried thyme
1-8 oz. bottle clam juice (we used Bar Harbor all natural clam juice)
2-10 oz. cans whole clams, with juice (we used Bumblebee fancy)
1-5 oz. can chopped clams, with juice

Cook bacon in a large stockpot until crispy but not burnt.  While it’s cooking, dice the celery, onion, and carrot.  Remove bacon, chop into small pieces, set aside, and try not to eat all of it- you’ll need some for the soup!  Leave bacon fat in the pot and add chopped celery and onion.  Cook over medium high for about 5 minutes, then add carrots.  Cook 5-10 minutes more, stirring vegetables occasionally.  While these veggies are cooking, dice your potatoes.  Add potatoes and a generous amount of salt and pepper.  Cook for 10 minutes more, stirring vegetables around as they cook.  Next add the arrowroot powder and stir it into the veggies for about 1 minute.  Next add the milk, cream, clam juice, and thyme.  Bring to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are cooked.  Once the potatoes are cooked through, add the clams (with their juice) and the chopped bacon.  Turn the heat up to return it to a boil, then turn down to low before you serve it.  Makes about 8-10 servings.  

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