Chowder comes from the French word "chaudiere," meaning "large copper pot." In Brittany, fishermen would combine their fish in one of these pots, add spices, and share the resulting soup. This custom traveled with the Bretons to Newfoundland and then down to New England.

Cape Ann-style

Marilyn Gerhart of Easton sent in a Clam Chowder recipe for Charles Fern of Emmaus. "This is a New England chowder made in the Cape Ann-style, which means it's not thickened with flour. To turn this into the thicker Boston or Cape Cod-style chowder, simply sprinkle 3 tablespoons of flour over the softened onions and celery and cook, stirring for about 1 minute before continuing with the recipe," says Marilyn. This recipe is from "The New England Clam Shack Cookbook" and the author is Brooke Dojny.

Bob Ravier of Center Valley sent in a Bread Pudding recipe for Nora Bell of Allentown. This recipe is from the Meyers family that owned the former Meyer's Restaurant, Quakertown. Nora's request for the recipe was published several months ago.

3 cups sea clam strips or other chopped hard -shell clams in liquor

1 Tbsp. salt, plus additional to taste

4 cups warm water

2 1/2 cups water

1/2 lb. salt pork diced

3/4 cup celery

3/4 cup chopped onions

6 cups peeled and diced red-skinned potatoes (8 medium-sized potatoes)

3 cups light cream

1-2 cups whole milk

Freshly ground black pepper

Drain the clams, reserving the liquor. If using strips, chop them. Place the clams in a large bowl with the tablespoon of salt and add the warm water. Let soak for 15 minutes. Scoop out 1 cup of the soaking water and reserve. Drain the clams.

Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, cook the salt pork over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the pork is well browned and the fat is rendered, about 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove most of the pork pieces, leaving the drippings in the pan. Add the celery and onions, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes

Smoked scallop and mussel chowder

August 03, 2011

Serves 4

1 ½ cups light cream

4 ounces smoked scallops

4 ounces smoked mussels

2 slices bacon, finely chopped

1 large onion, chopped

3 cups whole milk

16 small red potatoes, halved or quartered

Handful fresh dill, finely chopped (for garnish)

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring cream to a simmer. Remove from heat, and add smoked scallops and mussels; set aside.

2. In another saucepan over medium-high heat, render the bacon, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until crisp. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels.

3. Add the onion to the pan, and cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until translucent.

4. Add the milk and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add potatoes, lower the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

5. Gently stir in cream and smoked shellfish. Cook for 3 minutes, or until the chowder is hot. Ladle into bowls and garnish with bacon and dill.

History of Chowda

When the Boston Red Sox play the New York Yankees, may heaven help the city who hosts this contest because things will definitely get “rowdy!” The rivalry between these two teams is so mighty, extra police presence is required around the venue, bars and restaurants pack extra tables and chairs in place, and ticket prices skyrocket to an unaffordable level for the average fan. The rivalry between these two cities has grown out of the ball park and has extended to all manner of competitive things. One that immediately comes to mind is that of Clam Chowder.

In 1836, clam chowder was already well-known in Boston and served at Ye Olde Union Oyster House, the nation's oldest continuously operating restaurant. I’ve had the Clam Chowder at Ye Olde Union Oyster House and I will tell you, rivalry be damned, it was among the creamiest, freshest, and finest bowls of Chowder I’ve ever eaten! I highly recommend it.

Manhattan style clam chowder came later, circa 1930 with the addition of tomatoes in place of milk, the work of Portuguese immigrants in Rhode Island, as tomato-based stews were already a traditional part of Portuguese cuisine. Scornful New Englanders called this modified version "Manhattan-style" clam chowder because, in their view, calling someone a New Yorker is an insult (of course).

Boston style Clam Chowder is white, creamy, and packed with clams and potatoes:

Manhattan style Clam Chowder is red, tomato based, and packed with clams and few (if any) potatoes:

I find both styles delicious. Personally, I would never order creamy white chowder while I was in New York, and I’d be fooling to expect a decent bowl of red chowder if I were in Boston. “Go with the local specialty,” is my motto!

Traditional Rhode Island clam chowder has clear broth. “Clearly” less popular than the other two, these chowders are still served, especially at long-established New England restaurants and hotels. Creamy chowders are available, but you’ll find the natives sitting in front of a bowl of clear broth chowder.

People in Delaware actually put fried cubes of salted pork in their clam chowder. Personally, I think that’s crazy so I won’t even dignify such a recipe with a response. Your mileage may vary…

Rhode Island Fish Chowder: A New England Favorite

Do you like to visit those quaint clam shacks down at the seashore for your favorite bowl of seafood bisque or New England Clam Chowder? You can enjoy New England Fish Chowder all year long with this authentic recipe from Rhode Island. Stir up a pot when the boat returns to the dock and the fishing trip is over!

This recipe can be cooked right over the campfire and served in paper bowls, or is worthy enough to be served in your best china soup tureen.

Freeze the fish for future stews. Our family enjoys savoring a batch in a large chowder pot served over the Christmas Holidays.

Authentic New England Fish Chowder

1 lb. salt pork, cut into strips, soaked in boiling water 5 minutes and drained

4 lb. cod or sea bass fillets, cut into 4-inch squares

3 c. finely chopped onions

1 Tbl. chopped fresh summer savory or one tsp. dried savory

3 Tbl. chopped parsley

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Split pilot crackers, cream crackers or ship biscuits or any plain, unsalted crackers that have not been oil-dipped

3 Tbl. butter

1 Tbl. flour

1. Make a layer of the salt pork in the bottom of a chowder kettle. Top with a layer of the fish, then the onions and season with some of the savory, parsley and cayenne.

2. Make a layer of the crackers. Repeat layers until all ingredients are used, ending with crackers that have been spread with two tablespoons of the butter.

3. Pour water down the side of the kettle until water almost covers top layer of crackers. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer one hour. Replenish water level with boiling water if level sinks too low.

4. Decant the liquid into a saucepan. Blend together the remaining butter and the flour and gradually whisk the mixture into the simmering liquid.

5. Transfer solid part of chowder to a tureen or soup bowls and pour thickened liquid over.

Yield: 8-10 servings

Rhode Island clear chowder recipe

Here in New England, we stand by our clam chowder, but we don't all stand by the same chowder. Rhode Island boasts its very own, chock full of clams and potatoes but utterly devoid of cream, or tomatoes, or anything but clam broth. It's a soup for clam lovers, and for people who can't have dairy, and for people who grew up having a bowl of chowdah with stuffies and a cabinet to wash it down. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you're not from here, so perhaps you've never tasted our clear chowder. I hope you like it.

Rhode Island clear chowder

Serves 6.

2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large Idaho potato, peeled and diced
1 quart clam broth
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 lb minced clams
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper

In a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot, melt the butter in the oil over low-medium heat. Add the onion and celery, and sauté for 2-3 minutes until the onions are translucent. Stir in the diced potato, then pour in the clam broth and thyme leaves.

Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until the potato is soft when pierced with a knife. Using a wooden spoon, smash some of the potato against the side of the pot, and stir into the broth to thicken it slightly. Add the clams with any juice, and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve hot.

Digging for clams: Stories even better than the chowder

The tide book may have progressively smaller fish beside minus tides with increasingly larger numbers, but my mind translates the fish to razor clams.
Those big tides are when Cook Inlet sucks in its stomach and uncovers dimpled sandbars, telltale signs meaning, with a little elbow grease, there's something fresh and tasty just below the surface.

In the photo collections of my and other original Ninilchik families are images of parents and grandparents smiling over buckets of clams. Their good-old-day stories are peppered with tales of who could dig the fastest, the numbers changing depending on who does the telling.

As teenagers, my dad and uncles spent summers on the inlet's west shore digging clams commercially. Pay depended on how fast they spotted the dimples, expertly placed their shovels and feverishly clawed their way through the gritty sand to halt the sharp-shelled clams' amazingly rapid descent.

During especially cruel winters, when food in Ninilchik became scarce and hungry children went to bed with growling stomachs, the low tides were a godsend. Villagers would endure bitterly cold wind, maneuver around chunks of ice and use lanterns to light their search for the fresh, sweet meat.
My own childhood memories of clam digging are resurrected by photos, too. One little black-and-white snapshot shows me at about age 4 or 5, smiling into the camera. My coat's buttoned up to my chin, a warm hat covers my ears, the cold wind blowing across the beach is second to the treasure in my bucket.

The first big tides of spring were an opportunity for the Methodist Church in Ninilchik to invite the village of my younger years to a clam fry. We're not talking dainty, bite-sized strips of clams. We're talking plate-filling steaks. An entire clam cleaned, dipped in batter and fried to perfection. So tender, it would practically melt in your mouth.

Later in the summer, during the period of time my family operated a fish trap about three miles north of the mouth of Ninilchik River, we'd deliver our fish to the Beaver, a tender that would come down the inlet from one of the canneries near Kenai. If anyone knew how to make clam chowder, it was Hugh Boyd, the Beaver's cook. We considered it a red-letter day when Hugh would send a jar of his thick, creamy chowder to shore for us to enjoy at our camp.

While I don't remember my family's table ever being bare of food, I do remember bitterly cold winter nights, the whisper of waves in the darkness, the hiss of a lantern and the joy of finding clams.
More recent family photos show my daughters as young girls, squatting with my dad next to the day's razor clam harvest. Even more recently are images of my grandchildren, leaning on shovels, their pant legs covered in mud, following in the footsteps of generations before them, bringing home the hard-won food of Cook Inlet.

It's been a few years since my dad, who turns 95 today, has dug clams, but his appetite for them hasn't diminished. Every summer one of the campground hosts in Ninilchik has faithfully dug and given bags of clams to Dad. Leaving them uncleaned means Dad still has a role to play in the process. Once Dad's done his part, the clams are handed to me for cooking.
As Dad's eyesight has diminished with age, so have his cleaning abilities. Just because he hands me a bag of clams doesn't mean they're ready to put in chowder.

So, I spend hours standing at the sink, cutting away the overlooked pieces of clams not meant for eating, stripping off slime not appropriate for any recipe and washing away remaining grains of sand. I complain under my breath that he can't do a better job.
And I swear I'm never going to think about, dig, clean, cook, eat another clam.

I can finally say, and find it freeing to admit, that I do not like digging for clams. I don't like wallowing around in the mud and sand and I don't like the hours it takes to clean them. Every tried-and-true shortcut others swear makes for easier, less messy cleaning has failed to work to my satisfaction.
And by the time I've submitted myself to all that unpleasantness, I sure as heck don't like cooking, much less eating them. Period.
Then I see those minus tides in the tide book and I imagine generations of my family sitting around the table, my grandparents next to my grandchildren. In front of us, a steaming pot filled with a thick chowder of clams harvested from Cook Inlet sandbars.

Like the tug of the tide, it's hard to resist. See you on the beach.

Getting that famed chowder to go

WEST YARMOUTH — It starts with butter.
One afternoon last week, cook Fernando Moreira dropped block after block of butter into a large pot, before adding flour and the fat from some salt pork. He whipped the ingredients together to form a thick paste, the first stage in the creation of the clam chowder that has garnered national acclaim for Captain Parker's Pub.
"Making chowder is a very, very labor-intensive process," said the restaurant's owner, Gerry Manning, as he observed Moreira's work. "We dice our own potatoes, we peel our own onions, we chop our celery."
More than a year ago, Manning saw a business opportunity in saving other eateries the toil of making chowder from scratch. Now, he is in the process of launching Captain Parker's Chowder Co., a wholesale chowder business selling to markets and restaurants across the Cape.
"It's a good-quality chowder and it was kind of an easy decision," said Mark Leach, owner of Dennisport Lobster Co., one of the new enterprise's customers. "A lot of people like it, and we've had a very good response to it."

The story of Captain Parker's chowder began when Manning opened the pub in 1981.
"I said, 'If we're going to have a Cape Cod restaurant, we have to have a really good chowder,'" he said.
So he began working with his chef to create the chowder he envisioned: thick, creamy and very flavorful. Over 15 years, Manning and his chefs tweaked the recipe until they hit on the formula that is still in use today.
Though the restaurant uses fresh clams and potatoes and cream, these components are not the key to the chowder's success, Manning said.
"Our chowder is not special because of the ingredients," he said. "It's special because of the process. We've figured out how to meld the flavors together."

The resulting chowder has a distinctive taste that often has diners trying to figure out the flavor, he said.
"Then they take another spoonful and the next thing you know they're scraping the bottom of the bowl," he said.
In 1998, Manning started entering the chowder in contests. And the chowder started winning: first at the Cape Cod Chowder Fest, then the Boston Chowder Festival and then the Newport Chowder Cook-Off, which Manning calls "the granddaddy of them all."
Captain Parker's chowder has been featured on the Food Network, in magazines and, in 2004, in a question on Jeopardy.
The chowder has become so popular that on a busy summer day the pub might go through as much as 100 gallons, Manning said.

The idea of selling the chowder wholesale occurred to Manning some time ago, he said, but he knew it would be a challenge to maintain quality while producing the soup on a large scale (all while continuing to run the restaurant).
Other Cape Cod eateries have successfully taken their wares off-Cape. Centerville Pie Co. has a national, mail-order clientele and South Yarmouth's Cape Cod Creamery sells its ice cream in grocery stores as far away as Milton.
"That part of the business has really expanded," Cape Cod Creamery owner Alan Davis said. "It's really the perfect set up for my product."
Last year, Manning tested out the wholesale concept by selling the chowder through the Dennis Public Market, where it was very well-received.
"Why not go with Captain Parker's which has an outstanding reputation on the Cape and beyond?" market owner Andrew Crosby asked. "Customers ask for it by name — they come here knowing they can get it."

At the same time, Manning was working with the Cape Cod Chowder Co. in Marion to perfect the process for producing and packaging large quantities of chowder for distribution, while keeping the signature Captain Parker's taste intact.
"It took us over a year for them to get the same taste and flavor making it in big batches," Manning said.
When completed, the chowder is sealed into plastic bags and refrigerated — never frozen — and delivered to customers, he said.
Maintaining the quality of the product once it is out of his hands is a concern for Manning. So he has made a point of working closely with buyers, teaching them how best to handle and serve the chowder.
"I wake up in the middle of the night worrying about that," he said. "I explain to the people who buy the chowder that it's a living thing. "» It needs attention as the day goes on."

So far, the business works with 20 to 30 customers, all of whom are local, he said.
"I'm trying to get the company launched while still running day-to-day a busy restaurant," he said.
But plans are in the work to expand distribution throughout New England over the next year, he said. Two Boston-based food distribution companies are already interested in carrying the product, he said.
"Gerry's chowder seems very unique and we think it's a wonderful product," said Peter Marks, president of Paul W. Marks Co., one of the interested distribution companies. "Once people taste it, once they get it in their kitchen and they try it, they're going to like it."

New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder
6 ounces (about 6 slices) thick-sliced bacon, cut into ¼-inch dice
About 2 cups diced yellow onion (¼-inch dice)
¾ cup diced celery (¼-inch dice)
1 large carrot, peeled and finely grated (about ¾ cup)
1 tablespoon dried dill
2 teaspoons dried thyme
½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
to ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups bottled clam juice
½ cup dry white wine
2 dried bay leaves
3 cans (6.5 ounces each) chopped clams, with their juices
1 cup half-and-half
3 cups diced cooked potatoes (
¼-inch dice; any variety will work)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the bacon in a large stockpot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it is crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the onion, celery, carrot, dill, thyme, and white pepper to the pot, and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft, 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Add
cup of the flour and cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat to make a thick roux. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes to eliminate the raw flour taste. If the roux is oily, add more of the flour and continue cooking for 2 more minutes. (The exact quantity of flour needed will depend upon the amount of bacon fat in your pot.)

3. Add the clam juice, wine, and bay leaves, and raise the heat to medium. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is hot and has thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the chopped clams with their juices, the half-and-half, and the potatoes, and cook gently until the soup is hot. Season the chowder with salt and pepper to taste.

Note: The chowder can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 4 days. Makes 8 servings.

Pidgeon's chowder recipe.

2 onions, peeled and chopped
4 potatoes, washed and sliced
41/2 cups vegetable stock, made from cubes
1 pound skinless, boneless salmon, cut into chunks
2 cans (151/4 ounces each) creamed corn
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
2 dozen hazelnuts, shells removed, finely chopped
1 cup fresh chopped parsley

Put onions and potatoes in large sauté pan. Add vegetable stock and simmer about 8 minutes, until potatoes are soft but not broken. Add salmon, creamed corn and a splash of milk. Continue adding milk until chowder is desired consistency.

Gently simmer for 5 minutes, until salmon is cooked through (you want it to flake).
Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle chopped hazelnuts and parsley on top of individual servings.
Makes 4 servings.

Manhattan Clam Chowder

           8 pounds quahog or large cherrystone clams, scrubbed and rinsed, opened clams discarded
           4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 -inch lengths
           2 cups finely chopped onion
           1 cup finely chopped celery
           1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
           3/4 cup diced carrot
           1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
           3 bay leaves
           1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
           4 sprigs fresh thyme
           1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
           1 1/4 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
           1 cup chicken stock
           3 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes or 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, chopped and juices reserved
           1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves
           Freshly ground black pepper

In a large stockpot, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add clams, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover, quickly stir clams well with a wooden spoon, and recover. Allow clams to cook 5 to 10 minutes longer (this will depend on the type and size of clams you are using), or until most of the clams are opened.

Transfer clams to a large bowl or baking dish and strain broth through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl. (You should have about 6 cups of clam broth. If not, add enough water to bring the volume up to 6 cups.) When clams are cool enough to handle, remove them from their shells and chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Set clams and broth aside.
In a large heavy pot, add bacon and render until golden and crispy. Pour off all fat except 4 tablespoons. Add onions, celery, bell pepper and carrots and cook for 10 minutes, until vegetables are softened. Do not allow to color. Add garlic, bay leaves, oregano, thyme and crushed red pepper and cook an additional 2 minutes.

Increase heat to high and add potatoes, reserved clam broth, and chicken stock and bring to a boil, covered. Cook for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and the broth has thickened somewhat. Add tomatoes and continue to cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add reserved clams and parsley and season with pepper and salt, if necessary. Allow chowder to sit for up to 1 hour to allow flavors to meld, then reheat slowly over low fire if necessary. Do not allow to boil.

Smoky Clam Chowder with Bacon, Chipotle and Cilantro Makes 4 to 6 servings

3 bacon slices, preferably dry cured and smoked, diced
1 yellow onion, cut into small dice
3 celery ribs, cut into small dice
-Kosher salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder or chipotle flakes
2 potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup fish stock or bottled clam juice
2 cups half-and-half
2 cans (6.5 ounces each) chopped clams with their juice
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup hard-smoked salmon, broken into small pieces (see Note below)
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
-Black pepper in a mill

Fry the bacon in a heavy saucepan set over medium heat and when it is almost crispy use a slotted spoon to transfer it to absorbent paper.

Cook the onion and the celery in the bacon fat until very soft and fragrant, about 20 minutes. Season lightly with salt and add the chipotle chowder.

Add the diced potatoes, fish stock or clam juice and half-and-half and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat and simmer gently until the potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in the clams, cream and salmon and simmer until heated through, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Taste, correct for salt, stir in the cilantro and add several turns of black pepper. Ladle into soup bowls and serve.

Note: Hard-smoked salmon, also called hard-cooked smoked salmon, salmon jerky and squaw candy, is firm rather than oily and pliable. Use your fingers to break it into pieces.

Another varation of traditional New England clam chowder

3 cups water or fish stock (see Note below)
1 cup dry white wine
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bay leaf
2 to 3 thyme sprigs
1 Italian parsley sprig
6 to 8 pounds littleneck clams, cherrystone clams or cockles, washed in running water
4 ounces bacon, diced
1 large or 2 medium white onions, cut into small dice
-Kosher salt
2 to 3 potatoes (2 pounds), peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
-Black pepper in a mill
-Sourdough bread, hot

Put the water or fish stock and wine in a large soup pot, add the garlic, bay leaf, thyme and parsley and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat so the liquid simmers, add the clams or cockles, cover the pot and steam until the clams open, about 8 to 10 minutes, or a bit longer.

Remove the lid and use a slotted spoon to transfer the clams to a wide shallow bowl to cool.

Meanwhile, strain the cooking liquid through several layers of cheese cloth, reserving the liquid and discard the aromatics.

When the clams are cool enough to touch, remove the cooked clams from their shells. Chop the clams into ½-inch pieces; if using cockles, leave them whole. Set them aside.
Cook the bacon in a heavy saucepan set over medium heat until it is almost but not quite fully crisp. Transfer the bacon to absorbent paper.

Cook the onions in the bacon fat over low heat until they are very limp and fragrant, about 18 minutes. Season lightly with kosher salt. Add the reserved cooking liquid and the potatoes, bring to a boil over medium heat, lower the heat and simmer gently until the potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to puree a small portion of the soup by inserting the blender near the side of the pot and moving it in a small circular motion; puree no more than one-quarter of the soup.

If you do not have an immersion blender, press a ladleful or two of the potatoes through a strainer or food mill.

Stir in the clams or cockles and the bacon and simmer five minutes. Add the cream and the parsley and simmer very gently until heated through. Season very generously with black pepper and remove from the heat.

Ladle into soup bowls and serve with hot bread alongside.

Note: To make fish stock, put 3 pounds fish heads, tails and bones that have been rinsed in several changes of cold water into a stock pot, along with a yellow onion cut in quarters, the white part of one leek, 2 inner stalks of celery and 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Add 1 cup dry white wine and 7 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat, cool slightly and strain into a clean container. Store, covered, in the refrigerator and use within three days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Variation: If you do not want to use bacon, simply omit it and saute the onions in 3 tablespoons butter. Taste the chowder after adding the cream and correct for salt.
There are layers of smoky flavor in this voluptuous chowder, from the bacon, from the chipotle and from the smoked salmon. If you're looking for the purity of Boston-style clam chowder, this is not the recipe for you. However, if you like the combination of brine, heat and smoke, accented by the refreshing flourish of cilantro, you'll love this chowder.

Aidan’s Pub Rhode Island Clam Chowder

Aidan’s Pub Rhode Island Clam Chowder
4 T. clarified butter (or substitute with half stick of butter)
2 large onions, diced
4 stalks of celery, diced
2 pints fresh clams (clams must be fresh)
3 large potatoes, diced
1½ T. fresh dill, chopped
2 T. flour
Salt and pepper to taste
16 oz. clam juice or water

Sweat onion and celery in butter over low heat until soft. Add clam meat, while reserving their juice. Stir gently for about 2 minutes. Add flour and dill and stir for about 3 to 4 minutes to form a roux. Add potatoes and cook 3 for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add reserved clam juice and additional clam juice or water. Mix well and simmer until potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with oyster crackers. Serves about 10.

Southern Illinois Chowder

Cooks with chowder curiosity will find a worthy cooking technique adapted from the French by many cultures.

Think of chowder as a thickened stew. Most often, that’s with milk or cream, but more often half and half these days. The original thickening was crushed biscuits, but soda crackers work well.

The fun comes in deciding the ingredients. Most chowders are seafood and vegetables. Clam chowder made with cream is the most popular, but there’s an exception to the dairy rule. New England clam chowder is made with cream. Manhattan clam chowder substitutes chopped tomato sauce for the cream. Other chowders include corn, white fish, potato and squash.

Chowder’s name comes from its cooking pot, the French chaudiere. In New England, it’s “chowda.” Fishermen in Newfoundland, who threw a selection of their catch into a pot and cooked it in cream, may have made the first chowder. Potato chunks were often added.

New England remains the chowder capital of America. Its popularity extends into Maritime Canada. The oddball is Southern Illinois Chowder, a thick, French-Indian stew. “Chowder time” there starts with the tomato crop and is served at social gatherings, which are called “chowders.”

Southern Illinois Chowder
o          1 gallon water
o          1 1⁄2 pounds stewing beef, cut in chunks
o          1 1⁄4 pounds boneless chicken, cut up
o          1 small head cabbage, chopped
o          3 large stalks celery, chopped
o          3 cups carrots, diced
o          1 large onion, chopped
o          1 cup mushrooms, sliced
o          2 quarts peeled and diced potatoes
o          2 1⁄2 cups fresh or frozen green beans, thawed
o          1 (15-ounce) can lima beans, drained
o          24 ounces tomato sauce
o          1 1⁄2 cups frozen corn, thawed
o          1⁄2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
o          Salt and pepper to taste

Add beef to boiling water, cover and simmer for an hour. Add chicken and continue cooking another 1 1⁄2 hours, stirring frequently. Add cabbage, mushrooms, celery and carrots. Cook for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onion, then the potatoes. Cook for 45 minutes. Add green beans. Cook another hour. Add lima beans, and cook a final 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Near the end of the time, add the tomato sauce, corn and pepper sauce and seasonings.
Makes 20 servings.

Note: Use for a slow boil. Be sure to stir often to prevent sticking. If shrimp and scallops are substituted for the beef, add in last 15 minutes.


o          3 1/4lb (1.5kg) fresh littleneck clams
o          10 tbsp (11/4 sticks) unsalted butter
o          1/4 cup all-purpose flour
o          1 cup dry white wine
o          3 cups hot Fish Stock
o          1 cup fresh corn kernels, or drained and rinsed canned corn
o          1 yellow onion, cut into 1/2in (1cm) dice
o          1 leek (white part only), cut into 1/2in (1cm) dice
o          2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
o          1 large baking potato, about 7oz (200g), peeled and cut into 1/2in (1cm) dice
o          2/3 cup heavy cream a handful of fresh parsley (curly or flat-leaf), roughly chopped
o          sea salt and freshly milled white pepper


           Clean the clams by soaking them in cold water for at least 20 minutes, or up to an hour.

           Meanwhile, make a beurre manié (butter and flour liaison). Soften 4 tbsp of the butter and mix in the flour to make a thick paste. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.

           Drain the clams in a colander and rinse under cold water to check there’s no sand left in the shells. Discard any clams that are open or that do not close when tapped sharply on the countertop. Heat a wide saucepan over high heat until hot, add the clams and wine, and cover the pan tightly. Give the pan a shake, then take off the lid—some or all of the clams will be open. Remove the open ones with a slotted spoon and set aside. Put the lid on again, and continue until all the clams are out of the pan. (Discard any that stay closed.)

           When the clams are cool enough to handle, remove them from their shells, reserving some in shells for garnishing. Pour the cooking liquid slowly through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan, leaving the sediment behind in the bottom of the first pan. Mix the hot fish stock with the cooking liquid and set aside.

           If using fresh corn, blanch it in a small pan of salted boiling water for 1 minute, then drain and rinse under cold water.

           Heat the remaining butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, leek, and garlic, and cook without coloring for a few minutes until they start to soften. Season with a little salt. Add the potato and cook for about 5 minutes until softened, then remove from the heat and stir in the shelled clams and corn. Set aside.

           Bring the fish stock to a boil. Whisk in the beurre manié in small pieces, then boil and whisk until thickened. Stir in the cream and bring back to a boil, then add the clams and vegetables and heat through gently for a minute or two. Season lightly, and finish by adding the clams in their shells and the parsley. Serve hot