Home Food Get To The Chowdah! Local Foodies Pick Their Favorite Winter Classic

Get To The Chowdah! Local Foodies Pick Their Favorite Winter Classic


Happy Sunday News24-680.com foodies!

Chef Charlie

The new year is off to a great start!
Lately, we have been presenting an annual cooking class called “San Francisco Winter Classics.”

The menu includes iconic dishes from our beloved City, including:

• Cable Car Cocktails – Starlight Room atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel
• Chef Charlie’s Clam Chowder – Boudin-Style
• Green Goddess Salad – Palace Hotel
• Cioppino – Fisherman’s Wharf
• Ice Cream Sandwiches – It’s It Oatmeal Cookies, Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Ganache
• Irish Coffee – The Buena Vista

Of all the dishes our students prepare, the top of the list, based on student reaction – is the clam chowder!

There are a lot of recipes and variations out there, but mine is particularly good (I’m not afraid to say), and here’s why:

• Lots of clams
• Onions, potatoes and bacon all the same size – about 1/2-inch dice
• Finessing the finishing is most important. The finishing flavor is a balance of clam, salt, spice, smokey (bacon) and umami (Worcestershire).
• The final chowder should be the right thickness. Not too thin, not too thick. The chowder can be rich, and proper consistency helps
• For a particularly unique SF experience, carve out a GOOD sourdough round and serve in it. Eventually, serving the “bowl!” If you can find small individual rounds (not easy), that’s even better.
• Make extra…it stores well refrigerate and makes great leftovers. Just add a little milk to refresh as you warm up a portion.

Hope you enjoy this! Always appreciate you feedback!

And, if you like to join us for a class, we are in Orinda – in the heart of the 24/680!

– Chef Charlie

Chef Charlie’s San Francisco – Style Clam Chowder


2 – 10 ounces canned chopped clams
3 cups of bottled clam juice
4 slices of bacon, diced
1 onion, cut into a 1/2-inch dice
3 medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes (about 1-pound), unpeeled, and cut into a 1/2-inch dice
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup half and half
1/4 cup cooking sherry
1/4 cup tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, or more to taste
A few dashes of Tabasco, or more to taste

Optional: 4 small or 1 large sourdough bread bowl(s), tops removed, and interior bread removed
Cornstarch slurry (equal parts cornstarch and water combined), if necessary to thicken


• Sauté the diced bacon in a heavy bottom stock pot, or Dutch oven, stirring often, until lightly browned. Add the diced onion to the bacon and sauté until onions become translucent. Add the flour to onion and bacon mixture and mix until well-coated.

• Add the clam juice to mixture and stir to dissolve flour. Allow mixture to come to a boil for approximately 5 minutes. The mixture should become slightly thickened, approximately the same thickness as cream. If it is too thick, add additional water.

• Add the thyme and bay leaf to stock. Add potatoes and simmer, covered, for approximately 15 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.

• Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring cream and half-and-half to a simmer. Add clams and cook for about 5-8 minutes.

• Once potatoes are fully-cooked, combine with cream and clam mixture. Bring entire soup to a simmer for about 1-2 minutes. Add the sherry, kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, Worcestershire, and Tabasco to taste. All of these finishing elements should be used to your own taste: salt, spice, umami (sherry) and Worcestershire. The finished chowder should be balanced, and you can only know by tasting.

• Lastly, check the soup’s thickness: should be the consistency of gravy. If too thick, add a bit of water. If too thin, whisk in a couple tablespoons of the cornstarch slurry until the desired thickness is achieved.

• Ladle into heated sourdough bread bowls, if using. Cut the bread into pieces and serve with the soup.

Serves 4 – 6

© Epicurean Exchange. All rights reserved


  1. Pavarotti a la Trattoria Contadina. We miss Russian Hill so much and this restaurant in particular. It would be great to get the chef’s take on it so we can cook up a batch when we’re homesick!

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