The secret to making perfect clam chowder, according to an expert chef

clam chowder

Welcome to Clubhouse Eats, where we celebrate the game’s most delectable food and drink. Hope you brought your appetites.


I’m an Island guy. Long Island, that is.

But I’ve also lived on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, where I made a habit of cooking with fresh clams.

They’re delicious in all kinds of preparations, but it’s hard to do much better than New England-style clam chowder. Sorry, I mean, chowdah. See, I even learned how to say it right.

With the U.S. Open taking place in Brookline this week, I was keen to my revisit my personal recipe for this lush, clam-studded dish, along with a few key dos and don’ts.


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Use fresh clams

Yes, canned clams can be easier to come by, but there’s nothing like fresh. While my preference is for baby clams, cherrystones and quahogs are acceptable, too.

Save the juice

Steaming your clams for your chowder is one of the basic steps. Reserve that juice. Put it in a container and let the sediment settle to the bottom before pouring off.

Make a proper roux

Use equal parts of melted butter and flour mixed together to create a “wet sand” consistency.


Use too much cream

I often see people adding huge amounts of cream to the chowder. It usually breaks down, creating a greasy slick of butter across the top.

Use canned clam juice

Better to use low-sodium chicken stock, if you need to use anything at all.

Ignore the option of Manhattan-style chowder

If you’re looking to go dairy-free, a tomato-base chowder is wonderful.

New England Clam Chowder Recipe

-5 lbs baby clams
-6 oz white wine
-18 oz water
-8 oz heavy cream
-1 Idaho potato, diced
-2 cups chopped leeks
-2 cup diced celery
-1 shallot minced
-1 clove of garlic minced
-1/2 bunch of thyme, chopped
-1/3 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
-1 bay leaf
-1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
-A few dashes Tabasco


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In a covered stock pot, steam baby clams with water and white wine.

After about seven minutes, the clams should all open. Discard those that have remained closed. Pull the meat from clams and strain the juice through a sieve and reserve.

In a separate pot, sweat garlic, leek and celery until translucent. Add potatoes.

Also, in a separate pot combine your reserved broth with cream and bring to a simmer. Whisk in roux and simmer for 20 minutes.

Strain your broth mixture into your sweated vegetables and bring to a simmer. Add bay leaf, thyme, and parsley. Cook until the potatoes are tender but have a little bite to them.

Depending on the size of the clams, you can either keep them whole or chop them roughly. Remember, you want big pieces.

Season with salt, white pepper, Tabasco, and Worcestershire sauce.

Serve with oyster crackers and a nice IPA from the northeast.

Shaun Lewis, a classically trained chef and certified cocktail master, is the general manager of Old Westbury Golf & Country Club, on Long Island.

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