The Best Clam Chowdah Evah from Jason Santos

Plucked from the pages of chef Jason Santos’ brand new cookbook, Simple Fancy: A Chef’s Big-Flavor Recipes for Easy Weeknight Cooking, this recipe for the Best Clam Chowdah Evah will keep you feeling cozy and toasty throughout the cold wintry days ahead. You can make it as the first course of your Feast of The Seven Fishes menu or just tuck it away until the temps really drop.


ingredients for smoked oyster crackers

  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • Smoked salt
  • 2 tablespoons (28 g) butter, melted
  • 2 cups (90 g) oyster crackers

ingredients for chowder

  • 4 tablespoons (57 g) butter
  • 1/2 cup (115 g) minced raw bacon
  • 1/4 cup (25 g) diced celery
  • 1/4 cup (32 g) diced carrot
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) diced onion
  • 1/4 cup (22 g) diced fennel
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup (31 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups (600 ml) clam juice
  • 2 cups (364 g) diced clam meat
  • 1/2 lb (226 g) Idaho potatoes, peeled, diced, and boiled separately until just cooked through
  • 2 tablespoons (8 g) finely chopped parsley leaves
  • 4 tablespoons (12 g) minced fresh chives, divided
  • 1–2 cups (240–480 ml) heavy cream


  1. Make the smoked oyster crackers: Preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC). Mix the liquid smoke, salt, and butter in a small pot and melt. Place the crackers in a medium-sized bowl, pour the butter mixture over the crackers, and toss until all crackers are coated. Spread on a sheet pan and bake for 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
  2. In a pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the bacon and cook until it begins to crisp, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrot, onion, fennel, thyme, and bay leaves and sauté until the vegetables soften, about 6 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes—do not allow the flour to brown. Gradually whisk in the clam juice. Add the clam meat and potatoes and simmer everything for 10 to 15 minutes to blend the flavors, stirring frequently. Finish with the parsley and 2 tablespoons (6 g) of chives. Cool the chowder base until ready to use.
  3. When you are ready to use it, heat the chowder base with enough heavy cream to reach your desired consistency and season with the S&P, if necessary. Remove the bay leaves. Garnish with half of the smoked oyster crackers, and the remaining 2 tablespoons (6 g) of minced chives

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