Sunday, November 14, 2010

New England Clam Chowder

This chowder is a real old fashioned treat!
     This is the traditional New England Clam Chowder recipe.  Boston Chowder and Manhattan Chowder are close cousins of New England Clam Chowder.  Canned clam chowder is awful tasting compared to a fresh clam chowder.  Canned clams are of very poor quality and should not be used in this recipe.  You can use fresh frozen shucked clams but you will need to buy clam juice too.  There is nothing better than fresh shucked clams with their own juices for making a great chowder.
     I have cooked this recipe in many restaurants over the years.  I can't even guess how many thousands of gallons of chowder I have made in my lifetime!  I once took a day chef job in Maine for a summer a few years ago.  The restaurant hired me to write a new menu that included some fancy seafood dishes.  The owner was a candidate for the worst restaurant owner of the century award!  The customers loved the nice seafood menu additions and fancy special du jour entrees that I cooked.  The restaurant owner had no knowledge of fine cooking, yet he made the chowder for the menu.  Some people just cannot boil water.  The owner burnt the chowder every time he made it!  It was awful!  I had to go to another restaurant just to get a good bowl of chowder just like our customers did.  Seafood and lobster is a way of life in Maine.  In Maine, the chowder can make you or break you!
     Recipe:  Small dice some salt pork fat.
     Simmer and render the salt pork in a pot over medium heat.
     When some grease renders from the salt pork, add a little bit of fine chopped onion and celery.
     Add small handful of small cube shaped diced potato.
     Simmer and stir till the onions are clear.
     Add just enough flour, while stirring, to soak up the excess grease.  (Do not let the flour brown!)
     Immediately add some milk while stirring.
     Bring the soup to a gentle boil over medium heat while stirring.
     Add a bay leaf.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Return the chowder to a simmer over medium low heat.
     Shuck six large neck clams per serving of chowder.  (Use more clams if they are small.)
     Shuck the clams over a bowl so the clam juices will be saved.
     Pour the fresh clam juice into the chowder.
     Fine chop the clams and add them to the chowder.
     Simmer the chowder till the potatoes are cooked.  Chowder does not need to simmer for a long period of time, especially when using fresh clams.
     Remove the bay leaf. 
     Ladle the chowder into a soup bowl and garnish with a sprinkle of paprika.
     There should be clam pieces in every spoonful of chowder.  The amount of potato should be small in a chowder.  Just a small amount of onion, celery and salt pork is used to flavor the chowder.  The chowder's consistency should be slightly thicker than warm cream.  Thick chowders are not well recieved in Maine.  Large Neck, Cherry Stone and Little Neck clams are good choices for this chowder.  Very large clams must be pounded with a meat mallet to tenderize them before cooking.  The flavor of a great clam chowder is so delicious!  The taste of the ocean and clams are in every sip.  Clam chowder is great for warming up on a chilly day.  Yum!  ...   Shawna

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