Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fresh Clam Chowder Pot Pie and a Seattle Trip

"There is nothing better on a cold wintry day than a properly made pot pie."

 ~Craig Claiborne

We live about 2 hours south of Seattle, and 2 hours north of Portland. When we want a city fix we go to one of these wonderful places. This time it was Seattle for my husbands birthday. We visited the Seattle Museum of History and Industry,  (his choice.) It was pretty fun and interesting.

We also stopped at Pike Place Market, a place I can never get enough of. We picked up some fresh clams for me to turn into this clam chowder pot pie.

rinsing my fresh clams

On a recent visit to Vancouver, BC, we saw a clam chowder pot pie being sold at a pie place called A La Mode in the Granville Market . My husband and I looked at each other and said, "Genius !" Alas, we couldn't eat one since we were full from lunch. So I walked away with only the idea.

fresh clams at Pike Place Market
 I took a clam chowder soup recipe and made it a little thicker. First you cook the fresh clams with some water and veggies to make a broth. This broth, though only cooked briefly until the clams open, is extremely fresh, bright and flavorful. A much better flavor than canned clams or bottled clam juice would provide.

Yes, the fresh clams are amazing, but not something I will do everyday, due to availability and expense. But it sure is nice to have them when you do.

For pot pies I'm usually a 2 crust type of girl, but for this I used puff pastry for a top crust only, due to the fact that the clams are already cooked when they go into the soup portion of this dish. I didn't want them to have to be recooked for too long when they go in the oven. With the puff pastry top, it's only 15 minutes.

The end result is a delicious, rich, flavorful, and fresh as the sea tasting pot pie. We devoured these babies.

The throwing fish guys at Pike Place Market

Cake Spy Shop

We also visited the Cake Spy Shop while in Seattle. I always enjoy reading Cakespy's blog and when she announced she was opening up a store I knew I wanted to check it out next time I was in the area. While I was there I was lucky enough to meet the head Cakespy herself, Jessie Oleson . This is a really fun store stocked with artwork by Jessie, as well as other artist's creations. You can also go to her online shop and see what she's got.

I went away with one of her prints that now lives in my kitchen.


If you are using fresh clams, you will be making a broth that makes more than what is called for here. I froze the leftover broth to use at a later date.

New England Clam Chowder Pot Pie

This made me 3 -1 1/2 cup (350 ml) bowls

Ingredients for clams

If using fresh clams

4 lbs fresh clams in shells
plus one chopped onion, 1/2 of a chopped red bell pepper and 1 or 2 pieces of celery chopped, for the broth

If using canned clams

 If using canned clams, then 1-10-oz. (283 g) can whole clams (chopped) and 1.5 cups (350 ml) bottled clam juice, or just use the juice from the can with water to make 1.5 cups, although bottled is better.

Ingredients for soup

1/2 cup (80 g.) chopped onion
1.5 lb. (600 g.) russet potatoes peeled and diced
2 Tbs. (16g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (235 ml) whole milk
1 cup (235 ml) heavy cream
4 pieces of bacon, uncooked
Salt and pepper

For the top
1 sheet puff pastry (1/2 of a 17.3 oz. (490 g.) pkg.)
1 egg beaten with a little water for an egg wash
Place the puff pastry on the counter to thaw. It needs to be at room temperature.
To prepare the clams if using fresh- First rinse the clams well. If your fish monger told  you they are already cleaned then great. (Mine did), I still gave them a good rinse.
Place the clams in a large pot and cover them with 2 inches of water. Add the chopped onion, bell pepper and celery. Bring it to a boil. When it comes to a boil, give the pot a good shake. Turn the heat to low and cook clams another 30 seconds or so. Remove from the heat and remove all of the clams that have opened. (At this point all of mine had opened.) But if yours didn't, then put any clams that haven't opened back in the pan with the lid on, cook another 2 minutes. Remove the opened clams, and discard the ones that haven't opened.
Remove the clams from the shells using a spoon, dig them out of their shells and chop them. 
Strain the liquid that remains, discard the vegetables from it. This is your broth. You will only need 1 1/2 cups (350 ml) of this. Freeze the leftover broth for another use.
Cook the bacon in another pan. (not the pan you will be using to make the soup.) Cook it till it's crisp. Save the fat.
Now make a roux using 2 Tablespoons of the top (clear) part of the bacon fat, (not the brown bits on the bottom, this will turn your chowder brown/grey. If that doesn't bother you, then cool, add it.)
Add the bacon fat to a large pot (the one that you will be using to make your chowder) saute the chopped onion in the bacon fat until it has softened. Add the diced potatoes and saute until they have been covered by the fat. Now add the 2 Tablespoons of flour and stir it covering the onions and the potatoes.
Pour in the 1 1/2 cups (350 ml) clam broth (or clam juice if using bottled or canned) bring it to a boil and stir it. When it has come to a boil, reduce the heat, cover it and let it simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked.
While that is boiling chop the 4 pieces of bacon.
Now stir it and add the milk, cream, the chopped clams and the chopped bacon.
Heat it up for a few minutes, and add salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 200 degrees Celsius, Gas Mark 6.
Now ladle the soup into oven proof soup bowls.
Place puff pastry on a floured surface. Cut squares to go just about an inch over the shape of your bowls. Brush the egg wash over the puff pastry, this gives it that beautiful color.
Place the bowls on a cookie sheet and pop them into the preheated oven and bake for about 15 minutes until the pastry has puffed completely and is golden brown and delicious.


Lee said...

Wow, that looks really yummy. Puff pastry + clam chowder = winner!

Normgrhm said...

Excellent post and great pictures

Shannon Pixie said...

Mmm, this looks so good. I was just thinking about finding a clam chowder recipe...this looks even better!!

June said...

Fabulous idea. I'll be trying this soon with some of our "clam stash" from last year's vacation. Thanks so much for the inspiration.

Beverly@Beverly's Back Porch said...

What a wonderful looking dish. I will certainly make this in the near future. Yum!

Miz Helen said...

Your Clam Chowder Pot Pie looks delicious. Your Seattle Trip brings back very pleasant memories of our trip there. Thank you for sharing and have a great day!

Canadagirl said...

Oh you make me homesick for Seattle. I am going to have to make this when I visit my family. ((drooling))


Brenda said...

This looks absolutely amazing.