Snow fell last night here in Virginia – an absurdly small amount compared to what I was used to growing up in Wisconsin – but still they delayed school two hours. I’m not-so-secretly happy about this, although it would have been awesome to have the whole day! Alan laughs at my passion for the snow day, telling me I’m the only mom who wishes for one (although I know there are many others out there just like me).
This does mean that Katie’s preschool has been canceled, which means that it’s a prime opportunity to have a special day with just the two of us. I was supposed to cook for two clients today, which means I’ll have some makeup to do tomorrow. But I’ll worry about that tomorrow – today is meant for sledding, hot cocoa and – you guessed it – this delicious clam chowder!
The recipe comes from a food blog that I’m not familiar with, yet I can already tell it will be one I’ll be following. It’s unique in that it’s all about pressure cooking – hip pressure cooking, to be exact. I confess that I don’t have a pressure cooker nor have i ever cooked with one, although I was eyeballing them after Christmas and it’s the very next item on my kitchen wish list (having already crossed off several from this past Christmas, including a mortar and pestle and a pizzelle maker, posts about both coming soon).
Hip Pressure Cooking is written by Laura Pazzaglia, and if you’re at all interested in pressure cooking or just want to know what the fuss is all about, you should definitely check it out. Here’s what Laura has to say about her easy recipe for New England Clam Chowder:
If you use fresh clams it’s 5 more minutes but who wouldn’t want a chowder from scratch in under half an hour? You sautee the bacon and onions for 5 minutes, pressure cook the veggies for 5 minutes, add the cream and clams and simmer for just 5 minutes more. Wow! This recipe was so fast and delicious that it is now on my “what to serve if we have guests for lunch” rotation. Once you try it you will never be able to enjoy another clam chowder!
12-24 fresh clams or 11 oz. or 300g of strained frozen or canned clams
2 cups Clam Juice (see instructions to make your own, below)
1 cup, smoked and cured bacon or pancetta (cubed)
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup of white wine
2 Medium Potatoes, cubed skin on
2 cups Clam Juice (see instructions)
1 Bay Laurel Leaf
1 Sprig Thyme
1 pinch, cayanne pepper
1 cup of milk
1 cup of cream
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
Prepare the clams for this recipe and make your own clam juice in the following way:
Fresh Calms- Prepare your pressure cooker by putting in one cup of water, and the steamer basket. Clean the shells of the clams, then place them in the steamer basket. Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker and turn the heat to high. When the pan reaches pressure, lower the flame to minimum heat and count 5 minutes cooking time under pressure. When time is up, bring the pan to the sink, pour cold water over the top, and open the pan. Open the clams over the pan (to keep the juice dribbling in there) and set the clam meat aside. Discard clam shells and unopened clams – the liquid at the bottom of your pan is the clam juice!
Frozen Clams – If they are frozen in their open shells, follow the instructions for fresh clams, above. If they are unshelled simply let them defrost in your refrigerator overnight or immediately in your sink by running cold water over the unopened package. Then, put a strainer over a bowl and carefully open the package over the strainer. Strain the clams. The liquid in the bowl is your clam juice.
Canned or Jarred Clams – Put a strainer over a bowl, pour the contents of the can or jar into the strainer. The liquid in the bowl is your clam juice.
In the cold pressure cooker, with the top off, add the bacon and turn on the heat at a low flame. When the bacon releases it’s fat and it begins to sizzle, add the onion, salt and pepper and raise the heat to medium.
When the onions have softened, add the wine and scrape all of the brown delicious bits off the bottom of the pan to incorporate into your sauce. Let the wine evaporate almost completely and then add the diced potatoes, clam juice (if you do not have 2 cups of juice, compensate the rest with water), Bay Leaf, Thyme, and Cayenne Pepper.
Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker and turn the heat to high. When the pan reaches pressure, lower the flame to minimum heat and count 5 minutes cooking time under pressure. When time is up, bring the pan to the sink, pour cold water over the top, and open the pan.
While your are pressure cooking, make a roux to thicken the chowder by blending equal amounts of butter and flour over low heat and stirring constantly with a small wooden spoon until they are both well blended.
In the open pressure cooker add the clam meat, cream, milk and roux. Stir well, and simmer all of the ingredients in the pressure cooker, with the top off, at medium-low heat for 5 minutes.
Serve garnished with soup crackers or inside a bread bowl.
Aren’t Laura’s pictures gorgeous? You can find all the details about how to pressure cook the hip way by visiting her site, Hip Pressure Cooking.
Have a great day!