This is one of those weeks when there is just too much to do. I’m participating in two big holiday events this weekend, the Thanksgiving Harvest Market at the Beaverton Farmers’ Market (8:00 am to 1:30 pm on Saturday, Nov. 19 if you live close-by) and the Holiday Market at the German American School of Portland (Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 19 and 20). Gebrannte mandeln, or burnt sugar almonds, are a traditional German holiday treat that I sell at these events along with roasted hazelnuts, pecans and walnuts. These two events are incredibly busy as shoppers start to prepare for the coming holiday season. Nuts are packaged in festive cones that are exactly what you would see if you were visiting the holiday markets in Germany. My goal this year was to have my blog shopping page all set up so nuts and other special items would be available for mail order but I just couldn’t get it put together. Definitely next year.
It’s going to be a long weekend so I am doing a little cooking ahead of time so we have something warm and nourishing waiting for us when we get home at night. The Harvest Market is outside and the temperature won’t get much above 40° on Saturday so soup sounds like a perfect choice. The key to a good chowder is good ingredients and I try to use fresh local razor clams if they are available. We love to dig them ourselves on the north Oregon coast (the flavor is out of this world), but if they aren’t available I use canned razors or grocery store chopped clams. They all make good chowder. To me the consistency of the soup is critical and I have discovered that if I make a cream sauce and add it to the chowder in the final steps I can easily thicken it to suit our taste.
- ¼ pound thick sliced bacon, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- ¾ cup celery, chopped
- 3 cups potato, peeled and diced
- 1 cup or more fresh clams, shucked and diced or 3-4 cans chopped canned clams
- 1-1/2 cups clam juice or chicken stock
- 2-3 cups half and half
- ¼ cup butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup half and half
- salt and freshley ground black pepper
- ½ cup parsley, chopped
- chopped bacon and oyster crackers for garnish
- Fry bacon in a soup pot until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Remove all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat and saute the chopped onion and celery until translucent. Add potato and clam juice or broth and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
- If you are using fresh chopped clams simmer them in a little salted water for 5-10 minutes until firm. If using canned clams drain off the liquid and add enough broth to make 1-1/2 cups to cook the potatoes.
- When the potatoes are tender add desired amount of half and half to the soup. Heat to barely simmering.
- Melt ¼ cup butter in a medium saucepan. Stir in 3 tablespoons flour and blend well. Cook for 2 minutes, then mix in 1 cup half and half and stir constantly until sauce is creamy and thick. Add this mixture slowly to the simmering soup until it is the consistency you like. Simmer soup for 5-10 minutes.
- Serve garnished with chopped parsley, bacon bits and warmed oyster crackers.
Amounts aren’t exact so don’t worry about being precise in your measurements. Sometimes I substitute Dungeness crab meat for the clams. Add the crab meat to the hot soup about 5 minutes before serving and carefully ladle into soup bowls so the crab chunks stay together as much as possible.
Razor clams are typically about 4-6 inches long . In Oregon we need a license to dig them and the limit is 12 clams per person per day. This rule is STRICTLY enforced and the fines for exceeding the daily limit are very high.
Clamming is best on days with very low tides. The clams are close to the surface and make a little dimple in the sand. This spot is very difficult to see and finding these little suckers is a lot harder than you might think. They can feel the vibration of a person walking on the sand and can dig downward at an amazing rate so clammers have to be quick. The PVC pipe clam gun is pushed into the sand with as much force as possible with the idea that the clam will be caught in the pipe and pulled up to the surface. Don’t even think that this is easy to do!
“I know there is one here someplace”