I would recommend that you get some ingredients from a foodservice Cash and Carry, or from a restaurant that you frequent. You will need...
|Ingredients, minus the milk, bacon, base, butter and spices|
7-8 # 5 cans of chopped ocean clams
12 cans diced potatoes
6 Spanish onions
6 large carrots
4 heads of garlic
6 peppers any color
1 small jar of chicken base
2 heads of celery
white pepper and salt
2 lbs of salted butter
6-7 gallons of whole milk
Start by cooking all the bacon, crisp, and then set it aside but reserve all the grease.
|The garlic, already smashed and ready to cut|
|About half of the onions|
You are now ready to start the sauteing. I use a 16" non stick skillet that I own and tend to cook the ingredients separately, but it can be done together. Start by sauteing the onions in a little olive oil, butter, and bacon grease. You want them soft and slightly darkened. When they are finished, sprinkle some flour into the pan to absorb and bind all the oils. Simmer it for a few minutes, stirring frequently. You are basically making a partial roux right now, and collecting all the flavors that came out while cooking.
You repeat this step with every item you saute. The peppers get done next, dice them fine. I like to mix the colors. I add the garlic to each of the items as I saute them, so that it doesn't get overcooked. It only needs a few minutes to brown and picks up an off flavor if you burn it, so you can cook it separately if you wish. The celery gets chopped while the peppers are cooking, chop this a little larger than the other items, then saute it like the rest of the ingredients.
|The carrots. I cool the ingredients, then bag them to be added|
|Onions cooking, celery cooling, bacon grease in bowl|
You are now done with all the sauteing. When the bacon cools, break the crisp slices into small pieces and set them aside. You are now ready to make the roux and the chowder base. I'm not going into how to do a roux, as I have never been trained and there are a lot of resources out there to teach you better how to do it. I use the bacon grease, the chicken base (base is concentrated stock, you need one with meat first as the ingredient) and butter. I use an equal amount of flour to the fat and cook it to a blonde color.
|A 1.5 gallon batch "finished" with no clams yet|
I add all the ingredients including the potatoes and bacon into the batches as I do this, except for the clams. I season to taste with the white pepper and salt. I like to refrigerate the batches for a day or so, before I reheat them, as I think soups and chowders always taste better on the second day.
You are now almost finished with all the preparations for combining the batches into 9 gallons of Uncle Bill's Clam Chowder. At this point you have probably also finished a six pack of beer. I like to have music playing while I cook, so as you can see you have to leave room on the prep table for the I-Pod player.
|Finishing the chowder, note the beer is still needed|
To finish the chowder, I use a double boiler system, I put one large pot into another and bring the water in the bottom pot to a slow boil and warm the chowder back up slowly. I add all the clams at the end, right before serving. You now have 9 gallons of Uncle Bill's Clam Chowder. I suspect it got that name because my many nieces and nephews are so fond of it. It's rare, in my opinion, to have kids get excited about a soup, especially a clam soup but they really do get excited about this chowder. One niece posted on her Facebook last week how she was looking forward to it, and believe it or not, my nephew Jake asked to have it for his birthday meal this year. If you make it, you'll have to let me know the results. If you need some help to make it the first time, feel free to call me to come over, but remember to triple the beer in the recipe.
|Look at all the kids lined up to eat the chowder|