I joined Jon and his son Michael on the clamming flats last week and we loaded up on a beautiful batch of quahogs or “chowder clams.” Check out the short clamming video,  and try this great recipe for New England Clam Chowder….ours isn’t too thick , but is certainly heavy on clams.  It’s perfect for Fall and freezes really well for Winter.  

Ultimate New England Clam Chowder 

Makes about 15-20 servings


  • 10 lbs fresh quahog clams (about 20) – or 1.5 lbs chopped or canned clams in juice
  • 8 oz. salt pork or good quality bacon – rendered
  • 2 large yellow onions – chopped finely
  • 5 stalks celery – chopped finely
  • 2 leeks – whites only, washed carefully and chopped
  • 3 russet potatoes – peeled and cut into 1/4″ cubes
  • 4 tablespoons each flour and butter – for making thickening roux
  • 2 quarts (64 oz.) clam juice – from steamed or clams canned (supplement with water if needed)
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons “Secret Spice Blend”  – white pepper corns, fennel seeds, coriander seeds
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Oyster crackers for serving

    Clams ready for steaming

    Clams ready for steaming – remove any cracked or opened ones


  1. Scrub clams to remove excess grit and place about 5 lbs each (15 or s0) into 2 large pots with 1/4″ water. Cover and steam for 10 minutes or until clams just start to open.
  2. Remove opened clams with tongs and place in a large bowl to cool.  Reserve clam broth and strain if necessary with coffee filter or paper towel…10 lbs should yield about 2 quarts.
  3. Dice salt pork or bacon* and cook for 10 minutes in large stock pot on medium heat or until fat is rendered – remove and reserve crispy pieces to sprinkle when serving
  4. Chop onions, celery and leeks and saute in pork fat for 10 minutes or until translucent. Cube potatoes and reserve.
  5. Add in flour and butter to sauteed vegetables to make a roux and cook for 5 minutes. Stir frequently.  This will help thicken the chowder.
  6. Add in reserved clam broth and potatoes and bring to a boil for 5 minutes.  Stir in 1 tablespoon of ground “Secret Spice Blend”*and bay leaves. then lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  7. Remove clam meat from shells and chop roughly.  You should get about 1.5 lbs of clam meat.
  8. Use a handheld immersion blender or potato masher to mash some of the potatoes in the simmering pot- this will release the potato starch and help to naturally thicken the chowder.
  9. Stir in milk, chopped clams and chopped salt pork/bacon.
  10. Simmer for 10 minutes, turn off heat and stir in 1 cup heavy cream to finish.
  11. Serve in a bowl with oyster crackers, chopped parsley and a splash of hot sauce…and bacon bits if still have them from rendering!


The finished chowder - not too thick but loaded with clams.

The finished chowder – not too thick but loaded with clams.


* Cutting Salt Pork & Bacon – stick in the freezer for a few minutes before chopping.   It’s much easier to chop when firm. Also, salt pork plus the clam juice should add just the right amount of salt to the recipe….taste before adding any additional. Our batch was perfectly seasoned and salty…just the way we like it.

*Secret Spice Blend- use a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to make this aromatic mix using these proportions: 1 tsp white pepper corns to 1/2 tsp each of fennel and coriander seeds. White pepper has a very unique flavor and it’s perfect with chowder. 

Secret Spice Blend

Here’s the video version of the recipe: CHOWDER VIDEO


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