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Clam Chowder with Bacon and Spiced Oyster Crackers

Jason Santos' Short Rib Sandwich + Quahog Chowder, Ben Ford's Mojo Ribs + Meat Chili
Jason Santos' Short Rib Sandwich + Quahog Chowder, Ben Ford's Mojo Ribs + Meat ChiliNathan Congleton / TODAY


  • 1 cup raw bacon, minced
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) butter
  • 3/4 cup celery, medium diced
  • 3/4 cup onion, medium diced
  • 3/4 cup carrot, medium diced
  • 3/4 cup fennel, medium diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup anise flavored liquor, preferably Herbsaint
  • 5 cups clam juice
  • 4 cups quahog clam meat, large diced
  • 1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, diced and parboiled
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-4 cups heavy cream
Spiced oyster crackers
  • 2 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 cups oyster crackers
To serve
  • 1/2 cup crispy bacon bits
  • 2 cups oyster crackers (recipe above)
  • 1/4 cup tarragon, minced

Chef notes

Since I'm from Boston, "chowdah" is one of my favorite things to make. I gave this classic New England dish a special spin with smoky bacon and spiced oyster crackers.


For the chowder:


Melt butter in large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until it begins to brown, about 8 minutes. Add vegetables, cayenne, thyme and bay leaf and sauté until vegetables soften, about 6 minutes.


Stir in flour and cook 2 minutes (do not allow flour to brown). Gradually whisk in anise liqueur and clam juice. Add clam meat and potatoes and simmer chowder 10-15 minutes to blend flavors, stirring frequently. Finish with fresh herbs.


Cool chowder base until ready top use. When you are ready to use, heat with enough heavy cream until desired consistency and re-season if necessary.

For the spiced oyster crackers:


Preheat oven to 350°F.


Mix butter and Old Bay seasoning in a small dish. Place crackers in a medium-sized bowl and add the butter mixture. Toss until all crackers are coated.


Spread the crackers on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for 5-8 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool.

To serve:

Serve chowder in bowls garnished with bacon bits, spiced oyster crackers and chopped tarragon.