Cardamom & Corn Clam Chowder
The other day I bought a small jar of cardamom seeds, a key ingredient in Swedish Christmas bread, which was a holiday tradition in my family growing up. It was always served toasted and buttered with our Christmas breakfast.
My mother had just given me her recipe, and I was about to make it for the first time. When I opened the jar, the distinct smell brought back childhood memories of Christmas morning. I don’t think I’ve ever incorporated cardamom into any of my dishes.
The small jar was quite expensive, so I pondered other uses for my newfound spice. I had a pile of clams in my refrigerator and a hankering for a clam chowder. The smell of the cardamom seemed perfectly suitable to pair with a chowder. So, I gave it a go. It was delicious.
1 1/2 cups quahog meat, chopped
3/4 cup bacon, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 cup red potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2/3 cup canned corn
3 cups clam broth
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons fresh dill, diced, plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon ground cardamom seeds
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 cup evaporated milk
4 cups light cream
2 tablespoons dry sherry
Scrub the clams to remove any sand.
Fill a large pot with an inch of water, add the bay leaves, and insert a steaming basket. Bring to a boil, add the clams, cover, and cook for 8 minutes, stirring them halfway through. Remove the clams and reserve the broth. Shuck the clams and chop up the meat.
Heat a Dutch oven over medium-low heat and add the bacon, then cook until it just starts to get crispy. Remove the bacon and hide it somewhere so you don’t nibble up all the bits. Remove most, but not all of the fat in the pan.
Add the celery, onions, and thyme, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes until the onions are translucent (lower the heat toward the end).
Add potatoes and broth, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and cook for about 11 minutes until the potatoes smash easily but are still just a tad firm. Remove from heat.
In a separate saucepan, melt the butter, then add the cardamom and cook for a minute or two. Add the flour and mix well. Slowly add in the cream and evaporated milk, stirring constantly. Heat until it just begins to bubble – it should thicken up quite a bit. Pour it in with the other chowder ingredients and add the corn.
The flavor will improve the longer you let it rest. When ready to serve, heat it back up to around 185 degrees, stirring often. Add more clam broth if it seems too thick. Garnish with bacon bits, dill, a few kernels of corn, and croutons or oyster crackers.
View more of Andy’s “Living Off the Land and Sea” recipes.