|Bratten's Clam Chowder Photo by Valerie Phillips|
My mom, Patricia Dymock, is recovering from shoulder replacement surgery. Despite the nausea and pain, she’s tried to do her rehab exercises faithfully. I suspect that my step-father, John, is getting just as much of a workout putting her through those exercises.
This is when you need comfort food. I made her some clam chowder and rice pudding, two dishes that she is able to tolerate well. I used the old Bratten’s clam chowder recipe, but streamlined the preparation and cut down on the fat. I used fat-free half-and-half, and cut the amount of butter from 3/4 cup to 1/2 cup. it was still very rich and creamy.
For those who weren’t around in the 1970s, Bratten’s Seafood Grotto was a Utah hot spot, with several locations along the Wasatch Front. The clam chowder had a following that lasted long after the restaurants closed. Recipes claiming to be the real Bratten’s chowder have been passed around in numerous church and neighborhood cookbooks. The recipe I use, published in “Five-Star Recipes From Well-Known Latter-Day Saints,” (Deseret Book) came from Bratten’s owner Milton Weilenmann. So I think it’s the real deal. It’s a simple recipe, but I streamlined it by using frozen hash browns instead of peeling and dicing potatoes. The original recipe also called for simmering the vegetables in a pan on the stove; I sped things up in the microwave. By the time you’ve made a roux and mixed in the half-and-half, the vegetables are tender and ready to add to the soup. And if you elect to use fat-free half-and-half, you really won’t miss the fat.
BRATTEN'S CLAM CHOWDER REVISITED
1 cup finely diced onion (or about 1 1/2 cups frozen diced onion)
1 cup finely diced celery
3 cups frozen hash browns (or 2 cups diced raw potatoes)
1 cup water
2 6 1/2-ounce cans of minced clams
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 quart fat-free half & half cream
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Pepper to taste
Place onion, celery and hash browns in a microwaveable casserole bowl. Drain juice from clams and pour liquid over vegetables. Add 1 cup water. Place a lid on the bowl and microwave on high 10 minutes, stirring at the 5-minute point. Meanwhile, melt butter over medium heat in a heavy stock pot. Make a roux by stirring the flour and butter together with a wire whisk. Continuing cooking and stirring the roux for about 5 minutes. Stir constantly while slowly adding half and half. Continue stirring and cooking over medium heat until mixture is thick and smooth. Add the cooked vegetables and clams. Allow the mixture to heat completely through. Add salt and pepper. Makes 6 1 1/2 cup servings.
Garnish: Parsley, oyster crackers