Pacific Northwest Clam Chowder

For maximum theme, we recommend savory clams, a painfully hoppy IPA, and parsnips with the dirt of the Skagit Valley still clinging to them.

A few notes on chowder technique:

This recipe calls for half a bottle of beer. Do not go rogue and add more! (Too much beer will curdle the milk, so just drink the remainder.)

Once you add the milk, be careful to keep it from coming to a full boil because that will also cause curdling.

Serves 6
Start to finish: 1 to 1 1/2 hours

1/2 cup butter
6 stalks celery, diced small

3 yellow onions (medium-large), diced small
6 slices thick-cut bacon or 6 ounces slab bacon, diced small
1 large Yukon Gold potato, diced small
2 large parsnips, diced small
1/2 cup rice flour or all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
5 cups milk, ideally 2% fat
4 pounds savory clams
3/4 cup west coast IPA
1/4 cup tarragon, minced
1/2 cup parsley, minced
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a stockpot or dutch oven over medium heat, add the butter, celery, onion and bacon and sweat until the onion is translucent and the bacon is glossy, about 8-10 minutes. (You don’t want any kind of browning or crispness here – soft translucency is the goal.) 

Add the potatoes, parsnips, flour and salt and stir with a spatula until everything is evenly coated in flour. Add the milk and simmer until the potatoes and parsnips are very tender, about 25-30 minutes. (Remember: no boiling!) Stir frequently, scraping the bottom to prevent sticking.

In a separate pot over high heat, add the beer and the clams and cook, covered, until the clams open, 4-5 minutes. Line a strainer with cheesecloth and drain, reserving the liquid. Fish the clam meat out of the shells and contribute the shells to your local midden.

When the potatoes are done, add the clams, the clam/beer broth (do not pour the last of the broth – any grit will have settled here), and the tarragon and parsley. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary. Serve with lots of freshly ground black pepper. 🏔️

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