If you watched Season 8 of Food Network Star, you undoubtedly remember Chef Michele Ragussis. I could think of no better person to go to for a recipe on National New England Clam Chowder Day than Michele. She is an expert on New England cuisine. Her pilot for Food Network, My New England, highlights her love of the region and her passion for cooking the seafood found in its waters.

This is Michele's award-winning New England Clam Chowder recipe. It's like a trip to the New England coast in a bowl... comforting, rich, and rustic. Note that Michele indicates using frozen clams if you cannot find fresh. I know you'll enjoy this recipe- it is one of the best clam chowders I've ever eaten. Thank you, Michele, for allowing me to share it! Read more about Michele in my interview or on her blog: Chef on a Pier



1 pound (4 sticks) butter

1 1/2 white onions, diced

5 stalks celery, sliced thin

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons clam base* or clam juice

4 potatoes (Idaho or Russet), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes

2 pounds fresh chopped clams **

4 cups heavy cream

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

A few dashes of your favorite hot sauce

1 loaf crusty bread, for serving

* Find clam base at the seafood market or substitute clam juice, found at most grocery stores

**Look for fresh clams at your local seafood market, or use high-quality frozen clams


In a deep stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and stir. Let the flour cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in 8 cups water and the clam base and whisk vigorously, making sure there are no lumps from the flour. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Stir in the potatoes and chopped clams. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the cream, dill, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring back to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until thickened, another 20 minutes. Check for seasoning, add a few dashes hot sauce, and serve with your favorite crusty bread.

Recipe copyright Michelle Ragussis, 2011

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