Clam Shack Clam Chowder

This recipe for Clam Chowder doesn’t have any particular unusual ingredients in it. This recipe is more “method” than it is “ingredients”.
I found this great recipe from Cooks Country and couldn’t believe the raving reviews it got on their website! So, I knew I had to try it.

Every, and I mean every Clam Chowder I have made has been tasteless and uninspiring.

Not being one to let failure stop me, I decided to give their method a try. It’s like no other recipe I have tried.

The idea is to “marinate” the partially cooked potatoes with some of the clams and clam juice to give it a rich clam flavor. Also, not to over cook or over boil the mixture so the clams don’t get rubbery. 

They tell you to use the “best” canned clams you can get. They perfected the recipe using canned clams as clams are not always easily accessible in certain parts of the country.

I live on the East Coast and don’t live too far away from some of the best clam flats in the country….”Ipswich Clam Flats”!
At its finest, an Ipswich fried clam is described as melting-ly tender soft-shell clam body surrounded, belly and all, by a crumb coating that, when deep-fried, becomes a salty, crunchy-crisp casing for the soft and sweetly briny clam inside. The combination is irresistible.

I am close to a ton of clam shacks, restaurants and fish markets that offer Ipswich clams, so are fortunate top be able to get them any time of the year. Well…except for if there’s red tide, and then we have to settle for clams from Maine or elsewhere which are no where near as good. Or maybe we’ll just settle for some delicious dry scallops!


My favorite Clam Shack is Clam Box in Ipswich. We usually share a Fried Scallop and Clam plate and it is plenty for us. It’s loaded with scallops, clams, the best onion rings in the world and french fires. The only thing they could do better is offer fresh cut fries….but that just my opinion. Others in the area are: Woodman’s, JT Farnham’s and Essex Seafood, not to mention many others.

This method for chowder is quite unique and something I have never seen. But leave it up to Cooks Illustrated and Cooks County to perfect the perfect recipe.

The method is quite simple:

This step is varied from their recipe, but I thinly dice 2 cups of onion and saute or sweat in a little butter to somewhat translucent. The original recipe says to throw the raw onion in with potatoes when marinating but I was concerned they would not be cooked enough. After sweating a little, remove onions to a bowl and set aside.

Cut 1-3/4 pounds Russet potatoes to a 1/2 inch dice.

Place potatoes in a stockpot and cover with about 1″ of water above potatoes. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low and cook for about 3 minutes or until a knife inserted has some resistance. Drain and place in a bowl and let cool about 30 minutes.

I them take a zipper bag and transfer potatoes into it. Add chopped clams with their juice, onion and 1/2 tsp salt and pepper. Marinate for 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

After marinating, add potato mixture to a stockpot.

Strain whole baby clams and reserve juice. You should have about 1 cup juice (if you don’t just add water to make 1 cup). 

Add clams, reserved juice and about 1/2 tsp salt into mixture.

On medium heat, bring mixture to bare simmer (should take about 10 minutes) and lower to medium low heat. Cook for about 5 minutes. Make sure you cook on bare simmer (where there are tiny bubble along the edges of the pan), so clams do not toughen.

Stir in whole clams and cream (these are the whole clams I used). I chopped them as they were way too big for my liking. Increase heat to medium to bring to a simmer and cook on low heat, stirring often to keep chowder just below simmer, until potatoes are fully tender and chowder is hot throughout, about 5 minutes. Make sure you use patience and simmer, you don’t want the clams to get rubbery.

Off heat, stir in butter and potato flakes, if using, until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with oyster crackers.

I would like to note that I bought 2 cans of whole clams previously to make chowder before I found this recipe and opening them after I opened the Bar Harbor whole clams to see how they were. Both were not very appealing. The one on the left even has pictures of whole clams on it, but both had a diced mixture when you open the can. 

As you can see, the clams on the bottom left are one of the cans pictured above I did not like. The clams on the top right are the Bar Harbor clams I used.

Next time I make I will try to use the containers of chopped clams that David’s Fish Market sells instead of the canned. You may be able to find this type in the grocery store frozen, but I would pay attention where they came from and what type of clams they are.

I bought Bar Harbor brand clams which were very good, but the whole clams were Quahogs, and Quahogs have a history of being a little tough because of their size. I had to chop before putting into the chowder.

The chowder was still over the top delicious though! Super comforting!

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Clam Shack Clam Chowder

  • Author: Afoodieaffair



Place potatoes in large saucepan and cover with water by 1 inch. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are al dente and paring knife inserted into them still meets some resistance, about 3 minutes. Drain potatoes in colander and transfer to medium bowl. Let potatoes cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Add chopped clams and their juice, onion, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to potatoes and stir to combine. Transfer mixture to 1-gallon zipper-lock bag, seal bag, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

When ready to finish cooking chowder, drain whole clams in fine-mesh strainer set over bowl; reserve juice (you should have about 1 cup; add water if necessary to make up difference).

Combine potato mixture, reserved clam juice, and remaining 1½ teaspoons salt in large saucepan. Bring to bare simmer over medium heat (bubbles should just begin to form along edge of saucepan), stirring often (it will take about 10 minutes to reach bare simmer). Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat to keep chowder just below simmer, until potatoes are mostly tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir in whole clams and cream. Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring often to keep chowder just below simmer, until potatoes are fully tender and chowder is hot throughout, about 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in butter and potato flakes, if using, until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with oyster crackers.

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