May 24th, 2004

The Clam Chowder Disaster

*plays taps on his imaginary trumpet*

So, that was a learning experience. You're allowed to have a couple of those before you're just screwing dinner up.

2 cups minced clams in juice from seafood department
8 white potatoes
2 large onions
3 sticks of celery
1/4 pound of salt pork
1 stick of butter
1 ugh what the hell else... ummm
oh yeah. 2 bay leaves, some fresh oregano and fresh parsley
3 cups of whole milk
3 cups of half and half

i think that's all i put in it.

ok, so, i cut up the salt pork, not knowing i was supposed to use the fatty parts. oops. i caramalized the onions and celery in the salt port with butter. Burned that a bit. Oops.

Mistake Number One: burning the onions

A wee bit later I added the cream milk and the potatoes and the herbs. Let that simmer for quite a long while, about an hour. Seemed happy. I grabbed a bowl and it seemed like it was on its way.

Mistake Number Two: not knowing how to properly add flour as a thickening agent. You have to mix it with cold water and make a sauce with it first.

So now the chowder has flour floating in it everywhere. But it still tastes ok.

The potatoes start getting happy. Time for the clams and clam juice.

Mistake Number Three: adding the clam juice (clam stock) I should have left the clam stock out. Adding it lowered the pH of the chowder enough that the fatty acids in the cream to coagulate. Dammit! Also, it gave it a harsh flavor.

Nate came over to try it. I didnt know the flavor had gone to crap from the clam juice cause I hadn't tried it yet. You should let the chowder "cure", that is, simmer by itself with little or no heat for a while. The flavors absorb into each other and you get a much more delicious thing to eat. Nate showed up, and he knows more about cooking than I do (read: he's already screwed chowder up on his own), so he just took the rest of the half and half and poured it in. It raised the pH enough that he was able to reconstitute the fatty acids back into the cream. The conglomeration looked enough like chowder, but the taste was the ultimate killjoy, of course.

So, next time I have many things to watch out for.

Total cost: 31.00 dollars. 10 in clams, 21 in everything else (the fresh herbs waste a lot. damn they sure make the apartment smell nice, though.)