Tuesday, September 06, 2005

New England Clam Chowder ©

One summer very long ago, we went to Maine for a weeks vacation at Old Orchard Beach, and stayed at the summer home of friends. The ocean body surfing was great, the water was freeeeeeeeeeezing, but the jazz at the local clubs was hot - not what one would expect in the 50's and 60's in a Maine summer resort town. We even got to sit in with the groups; I was a musician by trade.

It was during that trip, that I finally realized that a clam was not just simply a clam or something to be used for bait, but a delicacy to be savored. As a teenager in the 50's, a bunch of us kids would go clamming every weekend near Ocean Beach, a Connecticut coastal city where we lived. Normally, we'd bring back 1 to 1 1/2 bushels of clams. The next day we'd break them open and use them for flounder or fluke fishing bait. Little did we know.

The friends we went to Maine with were originally FROM Maine. The second day we were there, we went to the docks and bought four 2-pound lobsters and a bushel of clams. We spent several hours shucking them, and finally had nearly a gallon. Then came the chopping and cooking. When they were cooked and cooled, the following recipe was the appetizer that was to preceed the lobster. We never did get to cooking the lobster that night, because our hosts made 5-gallons of chowder. It was addicting.

• 1 - 3 Cups/Cans of Cooked Chopped Clams
• 1 Onion Diced
• 3-4 Medium Potatoes, peeled and diced to 3/4 inch cube
• 3-6 Strips of thick bacon
• 2 TBS butter
• 2 TBS bacon fat (can also use fatback salt pork diced and browned in lieu of bacon)
• 4 TBS Flour
• 2 Cans of evaporated milk or the equivalent of heavy cream
• 1 8-Oz. bottle of clam juice
• Additional milk (Optional)
• Salt and Pepper
• 2 Tsp Chopped Parsley

Drain clams and reserve the juice. Fry the bacon in a pan. When done, remove bacon strips, place on a paper towel and let cool, then crumble the strips and set aside. Saute onions until they are near translucent. In the meantime, make a roux consisting of the 2-TBS of bacon fat, 2 TBS butter, and 4-TBS flour. You want a nice white roux, so strain the bacon fat before making the roux. Add butter to bacon fat and heat to melt the butter until hot, but NOT smoking - just hot enough so that when you add the flour, the flour will bubble.

Remove from heat then whisk in the flour for the roux until well blended. Add evaporated milk, sauteed onion, bacon bits, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer on medium heat, and then add diced potatoes. If it is too thick for you, add 1/2 cup of milk at a time until it is of the consistency you like. But remember, the potatoes will add liquid when cooking. When the potatoes are tender, add the chopped parsley and the clams. Bring back to a simmer, and simmer for another 5-minutes. Sprinkle fresh ground pepper, chopped parsley, and additional bacon bits on the chowder before serving. Serve with REAL garlic bread.

This is a wonderfully thick chowder that can be served in a regular or sourdough bread bowl.

This chowder is a great pre-cursor to any seafood meal.


Anonymous said...

I don't see any mention of when you add the clam juice. I assume when you add the milk, etc.

Il Marmocchio said...

For the most flavor, the clam juice can be added as soon as the roux is done. It can also be added when the milk is added, but not quite as much flavor that way. Thanks for asking.

Anonymous said...

I love to cook as well. I am a woman and I am dairy farmer in northern ny state. I am glad to see that someone in the world recognizes the struggles that dairy farmers go thru and how the government screws us over every chance they get. How about we forgive haiti 800 million dollars worth of debt and let our farmers starve. Also, what is the purpose in a herd buyout program where they butcher thousands of cows to reduce the numbers and waste millions of tax money and then legalize sexed semen which produces 95% heiffers. I could go on for days but i won't. Thanks for the recipe it sounds great. I am going to try it and tell you what i think. JT