Are you ready for a more challenging recipe. This week we are cooking New England Clam Chowder and there are a few technical elements to making this freezer meal so that it comes out perfect.
I have to at least start off by saying I have issues when it comes to texture. So when I was asked to turn Clam Chowder into a freezer meal I took it as a personal quest to make it in such a way that the end result tasted like it came from a professional kitchen. This was no easy task and after a few attempts that failed this recipe was a winner.
With that being said this recipe can be a framework for your personal masterpiece. I used a few special ingredients in this recipe to give me the specific texture I was looking for as a freezer meal. These ingredients are totally optional but I highly suggest that you at least try it once.
One of those ingredients is Rice Flour. I use rice flour in this recipe because I find that it adds to the thickening power of a/p flour. In theory you could use all rice flour if you are gluten free and it should work as well. Not only is rice flour a great thickener but it works great as a freezer meal ingredient because it has stronger stabilizing properties.
Another unique ingredient we used in this recipe is Xanthan Gum. This ingredient is a miracle worker when it comes to thickening agents in freezer meals. You’ll have to be careful thous as Xanthan gum is a double edge sword. If you use too much it will make your dish slimy like aloe vera. So a little literally goes a long way. THe way I calculate how much xanthan gum to use is by taking the total amount of liquid in the recipe and dividing it by 8. That number is the amount of teaspoons I will end up using. In other word I use 1/8 tsp per cup of liquid in my recipe. Xanthan gum is completely different than flour or starch. It works on a molecular level creating stable bonds that don’t split when you reheat your dish.
Personally I don’t like xanthan gum by itself as I find it to have a strange mouth feel, but when mixed with flours like a/p or rice, you end up getting a mouth feel of a creamy gravy or beautiful chowder.
Enjoy this weeks video as I go through each step on how I made this beautiful clam chowder. I hope you get a chance to make it and if you do be sure to let me know.
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New England Clam Chowder
- 1 lb fresh clams you can use canned clams, just drain and reserve the juice for later. Use 3-10oz cans
- 12 slices bacon sliced thinly
- 1.75 lb onions diced
- 11 celery stalks diced small
- 1.75 lb potatoes diced small
- 9 garlic cloves minced
- 4.5 cups clam juice use clam stock and juice from the can (if you are using canned clams) to make up the quantity needed
- 4.25 cups chicken stock
- 1.75 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 10 tbsp All purpose flour sifted
- 3.5 oz butter
- 2 tbsp rice flour
- 1 tsp xanthan gum optional
- Rough chop your clams and set in the freezer or refrigerator. If you are using canned clams then separate the clams from the liquid and rough chop. We will use the clam juice later.
- In a large stock pot add the bacon and begin to cook it on a medium heat. Stirring occasionally. You want to cook your bacon slowly so it renders it's fat and gets real crispy without burning.
- Once the bacon is crispy add the chopped onions and cook on a medium/high heat till the onions are soft and translucent. Add the celery and cook for a few minutes more. Next add the minced garlic and the diced potatoes. Lower the heat to a medium and cook till the celery and potatoes begin to soften.
Preparing the Thickeners and add to the Vegetables
- Start by mixing the xanthan gum (if you are using this ingredient). Take 2-3 cups of stock and add it to your blender. Place the lid on and turn the blender on medium. While the blender is on add the xanthan gum and blend for a few seconds more. Take this mix and add it with the rest of your stock to distribute it evenly
- add the rice flour to your stock and whisk well. You can add this to the clam or chicken stock.
- To make the roux start by melting the butter on a medium heat. Once melted add the flour and begin whisking. Continue to whisk for about 5 minutes to cook the flour taste out. Once finished add the roux to your vegetable mix and mix well to incorporate
- Add the heavy whipping cream, the chicken stock/xanthan gum mixture (if you are using that), the clam juice, and the rice flour slurry to the pot of vegetables. Mix well to combine.
- Cook over a medium/high heat till the vegetables are tender but still retain their bite. Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary
Adding the clams
- To add the clams be sure that your clam chowder has cooled down completely. Mix in the raw clams and stir well so that they are evenly distributed.
- Package in freezer friendly containers. I use boil able/vacuum seal bags that make reheating a breeze
- Allow the freezer meal to thaw. Place in a skillet and on a medium heat, gently heat the chowder till it's hot. This action will cook the clams allowing them to remain tender in your chowder. (If you are using boil-able bags the place the bag in some simmering water for 15 minutes and serve)
It’s interesting to know that different kinds of thickeners are used in order to make clam chowder look a lot creamier. I’m thinking about buying a 1-quart premade New England clam chowder soon because I’ve been enjoying eating soups for the past cold nights. Perhaps I should check out the kinds of thickeners that they use in order to make sure that they are fit for my current diet.