Visitors and residents along the Oregon Coast love to stop and have a bowl or cup of clam chowder. Almost every restaurant has it on the menu but some make it special and have their own secret recipes. One of our favorite places to have clam chowder is Gracie’s Sea Hag Restaurant. It is located in Depot Bay across from the Spouting Horn which is always fun to see on the way. The food is great whether you want clam chowder or anything else on the menu. I always order clam chowder and my husband Steve, orders fish and chips and we are never disappointed. Several years ago I purchased Coasting & Cooking by Barbara Williams with recipes from Chef’s of the Oregon and Washing Coast. I found Gracie’s Clam Chowder recipe and have been making it ever since. When we go clamming, this is our favorite way to prepare our clams. The recipe requires about 30 clams, and I use freshly caught cockles or gapers after a morning of clamming on the Yaquina Bay. Here’s the recipe if you would like to give it a try.
Sea Hag Clam Chowder
3 – 6 ½ oz. can chopped clams (or 30 cockles)
4 – 8 oz. bottles clam juice (I strain the water the cockles were cooked in)
¾ oz. Minor’s clam base, about 1 T. (This is optional)
¼ t. cried basil (I use fresh)
¼ t. dried thyme (I use fresh)
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ lb. bacon ends and pieces (these are available at JC Thriftway market)
¾ cups chopped celery
¾ cup chopped onion
3 cups chopped, peeled potato
4 cups scalded milk or half-and-half
Chopped fresh parsley
6 – 8 servings
Drain clams, reserving juice. Combine the reserved juice and clam juice in a large soup pot. Stir in the clam base and basil and thyme. Bring to boil.
In the meantime, melt ¾ cup butter or margarine over medium heat in a small saucepan. Stir in flour to make a roux. Continue to cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In a separate skillet, cook bacon until limp and brown on edges. Drain off excess fat. Add celery and onion. Continue to cook for 5 minutes or until tender crisp.
Cook potatoes in lightly salted water until tender, then drain.
Stir roux into boiling clam juice, using a wire whist to blend thoroughly. Stir in clams, bacon mixture and potatoes. Bring mixture back to a boil then reduce heat. Stir in scalded milk or half-and-half. Do not let soup boil. Top each serving with butter and chopped fresh parsley.
I hope you will enjoy making and eating this version of Clam Chowder!