Tonight’s dinner was pure comfort food. I made this clam chowder for the first time last summer and it was an instant favorite. It’s a fairly quick soup to put together, using canned clams and clam juice.
Add the cheesy jalapeno bread and it’s flat out amazing. The bread is perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The flavor from the cheese and the peppers goes so well with the chowder.
This bread is excellent with many meals. I particularly like it with barbeque of any type, any creamy soup, and grilled meats. The recipe is not a sourdough based bread, but I usually substitute in some of my starter, which gives it a hint of that sour flavor and adds a bit more rise. It is a yeast bread mainly, though. I will outline below the main recipe and how to sub in your sourdough discard if desired. It turns out great either way.
You can make and eat either of these things without the other. Or pair them with different meals. But my favorite is to have them both together.
New England Clam Chowder
- Two 6.5 oz. cans of whole baby clams
- 8 oz. bottle of clam juice
- 6 strips of bacon, chopped (or pancetta cubed)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 stalks of celery, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 medium potatoes, cubed
- 3 – 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 tsps chicken bouillon (I like Better Than Bouillon)
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tsps dried herbs of choice (oregano, dill, thyme, etc.)
- 1/4 tsp crush red pepper flake
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup heavy cream
Open the canned clam and drain the juice into a measuring cup. Add enough of the bottled clam juice to equal 2 1/2 cups of juice. Set aside the clams.
In a Dutch oven, cook the bacon or pancetta over medium heat until crispy and fat is rendered. Remove about half the bacon and set it aside on paper towels to drain. You will use this later as a topping for the chowder. To the remaining bacon, add the tablespoon of butter. Once the butter is melted, add the onion and celery. Saute for 5 – 7 minutes until the onion is soft. Then add the potatoes and garlic. Cook for another 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and cook for another minute.
Add the chicken stock and clam juice to the pot. Bring to a boil while stirring to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add the bay leaves, bouillon and all the seasonings to the pot. Then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Add the heavy cream and clams. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
Keep over very low heat until ready to eat.
Cheesy Jalapeno Bread
- 600 grams (about 4 cups) All-Purpose flour
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- 1 1/2 tsps salt
- 2 1/4 tsp yeast (1 packet)
- 2 tbsp pickled jalapeno rings (roughly chopped and drained on a paper towl)
- 2 cups finely shredded cheese (sharp cheddar, colby jack, etc. )
Note: If substituting in some sourdough starter – you’ll need 1/4 cup sourdough starter discard and will reduce the flour to 3 3/4 cup and the water to 1 3/4 cups.
In a small bowl, add the lukewarm water and then lightly mix in the yeast. Let the yeast “bloom” for about 5 minutes. It will get slightly foamy on top of the bowl.
In a second bowl, add all the dry ingredients (not the peppers or cheese.) Make a shallow well in the ingredients and when the yeast mixture is foamy pour it in.
Note: If using the starter, add it to the dry ingredients at the same time as the yeast and water mixture.
Mix by hand or with a spoon until the dough comes together. If it seems a little dry – add a touch more water. If it’s too wet – add a bit of flour. Either way, just add a tiny bit at a time, if needed. The dough should be soft, but not super sticky.
Once the dough comes together, cover the bowl and let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The dough should double in size. If the dough is ready at this point, it will dent and then slowly deflate when you poke it a few times with your finger (gently, but firmly).
Gently scoop up the dough and unstick it from the sides and bottom of the bowl. Fold in the jalapenos. Then place the dough back in the bowl, cover and allow to rise again for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Uncover the dough, transfer to a floured sheet of parchment paper on your work surface. Shape the dough into a ball. Quickly fold in the cheese. Then cover the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes.
While it rests, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. When hot, add your Dutch oven so that it gets screaming hot.
Carefully remove the pot from the oven, and place the loaf with the parchment into the pot. Cover with the lid and return to the oven.
Bake for 45 minutes covered. Then another 10 minutes uncovered until the bread is brown on top and reads about 200 degrees internally.
Let cool slightly on a wire rack before slicing. Now is also a great time to take photos or videos for Instagram. Have you ever listened to a loaf of fresh baked bread? Try now. (Click here.)
“Bread is the king of the table and all else is merely the court that surrounds the king.”Louis Bromfield