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.

Clam Chowder with Bacon and Green Chiles

  • 8 slices of nitrate-free bacon from foraged hogs
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 medium potatoes, diced into bite sized pieces
  • 2 quarts of chicken broth from pastured hens
  • 8 oz of diced green chiles
  • 1 tbsp. of homemade taco seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. of ground cumin
  • salt, to taste
  • 3/4 cups of butter from grass-fed cows
  • 3/4 cups of sprouted flour
  • 1 quart of cream from grass-fed cows
  • 2 (6.5 oz) cans of minced clams
  • 8 oz. of sour cream from grass-fed cows
  • 6 oz. of grated raw cheddar cheese (optional)
  • 1 bunch of chopped cilantro or diced green onions(optional)
1. Begin by frying up your bacon in a medium cast-iron skillet. Rather than crumbling hot bacon after it’s cooked, I prefer to just cut my raw bacon with kitchen shears and allow it to fry into already-crumbled bits. To your fried bacon bits, add the onion and celery and allow to cook until the veggies turn translucent.

2. Meanwhile, bring chicken broth to boil in a 6 quart soup pot and add diced potatoes, green chiles, taco seasoning, cumin, and salt. Allow potatoes to cook in the boiling broth.

3. About 10 minutes before broth and aromatic veggies are ready, begin making your roux in a small sauce pan. Melt butter over medium heat; then add flour, stirring constantly to create a pasty roux. To the hot roux, add cold cream. (REMEMBER: HOT roux + COLD cream = NO LUMPS!) Continue stirring over medium heat until it thickens into a nice, creamy gravy.

4. Transfer bacon and aromatic veggies into your large soup pot. Add thickened gravy to the large soup pot. Stir until evenly mixed. Remove from heat. Add clams and sour cream and stir until evenly mixed.

5. Serve up your extra tasty clam chowder in bowls, topped with grated cheese and cilantro or diced green onions.

LIGHTHOUSE CLAM CHOWDER

Yield: ½ gallon
Portions: 8
Ingredients
½ cup Converted White Rice, Raw
1 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Water
1 Teaspoon Canola Olive Oil Blend
1 ½ cups Yellow Onions, Fresh DICED 1/2"
1 cup Ounce Celery, Fresh DICED 1/2"
1 Teaspoon Thyme Leaves, Dried
1 Cup Clam Juice, Canned
1 Quart + 1 Cup Reduced Fat 2% Milk
2 cups peeled Chef Potatoes, Fresh DICED 1/2"
8 ounces Chopped Clams, Frozen THAWED (can use 2 small cans, drained & rinsed)
1/2 Teaspoon Salt (omit salt if using canned clams)
1/4 Teaspoon Ground White Pepper
3/4 Teaspoon Frank's Red Hot Cayenne Pepper Sauce
To prepare:
1. Wash rice several times in cold water, rubbing between hands to remove starch coating.
Discard water.
2. In a pot, add 1st listed water. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer very slowly until
rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. About 20 minutes. Do not overcook.
3. In a blender, add cooked rice and 2nd listed water. Process it for 3 minutes or until pureed
into a smooth paste.
4. Heat stock pot or kettle over medium heat. Add oil.
5. Add onions, celery and thyme. Sauté until translucent.
6. Add clam juice, milk and potato. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes.
7. Add clams, salt, pepper and red hot sauce. Stir to combine.
8. Add pureed rice, 1/4 cup at a time. Whisk until well- blended. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Portion: Serve 8 oz ladle.

A taste of Rhode Island at The Mermaid Cafe

By Katie Warchut
A food adventure to sample some tasty hot wieners in Providence recently sent us on a hunt for some other typical Rhode Island foods, like Del’s frozen lemonade and coffee milk, to include in our video on theday.com. I don’t want to reveal any Day secrets here, but those drinks required a little bit of improvisation to shoot.
The clear broth Rhode Island-style chowder, however, was much easier to find this time of year and had another benefit: the discovery of a new restaurant in Westerly, The Mermaid Café.
We never would have stumbled upon it on our own, since it’s tucked into a marina on Margin Street along the Pawcatuck River, but it’s a nice spot for a sandwich or breakfast with river views.
I’m a New England traditionalist, meaning I normally order creamy chowder, but I may broaden my horizons after seeing the size of the clams in The Mermaid Café’s version.
They seem to do seafood well, and proudly serve other Rhode Island delicacies, such as clam cakes as a special and jonny cakes for breakfast – the cornmeal for “the original pancake” comes from flint corn, grown across the river at the historic Davis Farm.

Chowdafest '11: Chefs vie for chowder bragging rights in Westport Ct.

I should probably be embarrassed to admit this, but whenever I see chowder on a menu, I feel inclined to repeat the scene from "The Simpsons" where a French waiter places a bowl in front of Freddy Quimby.
"Hey, what the hell is this?" asks the Boston-accented Freddy.
"It's a bowl of show-dair, sir," says the waiter.
"What did you call it?" asks Freddy. "Show-dair? It's chowda! Say it right! Say it Frenchy! Say chowda!"
Chowder, chowda, show-dair. No matter how you pronounce it, you can get your fill on Saturday at the 3rd annual "Chowdafest" at Bedford Middle School in Westport. The event, created by Jim Keenan, will benefit the Connecticut Food Bank.
"I found myself, about ten years ago, in Maine," said Keenan. "There was a chowder fest and I thought, `That's a great idea. We're in New England. We should do this, and let's help the food bank,' " he said.
The twist with this festival, as opposed to others, Keenan said, is that everyone gets to be a judge. With spoons in hand, visitors get to sample a total of over 56 ounces of various soups and chowders.
This year, the competition is fierce. There are three categories: Classic New England chowder, creative chowder, and soup/bisque.
Norwalk's Ginger Man is the defending champ in the chowder category, although Shelton's Liquid Lunch has come in second and third place in the world chowder competition in Newport, R.I. The Ginger Man appears to be keeping its entry under its toque, but Liquid Lunch is planning on serving up a Sante Fe chowder and a buffalo chicken soup.
Southport Brewing Company is the incumbent in the soup category. Last year, they made a Thanksgiving Day bisque. "It was like the future," said Keenan. "You know how they always said we'd have dinner in a pill? This was like that. You could taste the turkey, the gravy, the stuffing and even the cranberry."
This year Southport Brewing will be cooking up two different entries: a corn and poblano chowder, and a BLT bisque.
Some other interesting entries include DaPietro's Mediterranean chowder and roasted cauliflower soup, and Soup Alley's Sicilian sausage & clam chowder and El Queso Grande.
Rookies in the competition include Bobby Q's with a Howlin' Chicken Chowder and a smoked chickarina soup, Los Cabos with a Mexican meatball soup, Nicholas Roberts Gourmet Bistro with Guinness and Chorizo clam chowder and a lobster bisque, and Italian Corner Deli, MacKenzie's, Old Post Tavern, and Restaurant at Rowayton all entering into the traditional New England clam chowder category.
Another newbie to the event is Westport's River House. Chef Raul Restrepo plans to make a seafood chowder and a vegetarian soup. "In the seafood chowder, we use clams, cooked in the traditional way for New England clam chowder, but with the addition of shrimp, scallops and mussels." As for the soup, it will contain asparagus, spinach and Yukon Gold potatoes. "It is our first time participating and we are really looking forward to be there," said Restrepo.
In the past, the event was held in November, but Keenan is hoping that this year's timing -- on "SOUP'er Bowl Saturday" -- will draw out the crowds. "People are tired of being shut in," he said. "They want to get out. And it's such a good deal."
Indeed, you'd be hard-pressed to find a cheaper lunch anywhere. Admission for adults is $6 ($5 if you bring a canned good for donation to the food bank) and kids are admitted for $2. "We try to bend over backwards for the kids," said Keenan. They get stickers, tattoos, chef hats, and they also get to vote for their favorite chowder. I mean, chowda.
Chowdafest will take place Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., in Bedford Middle School, 88 North Ave., Westport. For more information, visit www.chowdafest.org.




Roger's New England Clam Chowder

2 dozen chowder clams (quahogs) - you can use frozen clams, if necessary, one box should be enough
3 cups white wine
1/2 pound salt pork or fat back, diced fine (bacon can be used, if necessary)
4 Tablespoons butter (not margarine)
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1 bay leaf
pinch of thyme
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream

Steam the clams in the wine until they just open.  Remove and strain the liquid.  Reserve.  When the clams are cool enough to handle, remove them from the shell and chop them.  Set aside.  In a large skillet, cook the salt pork until crisp.  Drain and discard the fat.  In a large pot, melt the butter with the oil and add the onions, celery, bay leaf, thyme, and crisped pork.  Cook until the vegetables are softened and translucent.  Add the reserved clam juice and bring to a boil.  Add the potatoes, milk, and cream.  Cook until the potatoes are just cooked, about 7 to 8 minutes.  Add the chopped clams and bring the chowder to a slow boil, stirring occasionally.

New England Clam Chowder Recipe

3 8-ounce bottles clam juice
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 slices bacon, finely chopped
2 cups onions, chopped
1 cups celery, plus some leaves, chopped (about 2 stalks)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 small carrots, chopped or cubed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, stem discarded
1 bay leaf
1/4 – 1/3 cup all purpose flour
5 each 6 1/2-ounce cans chopped and/or baby clams, drained, juices reserved
1 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper, to taste


Bring bottled clam juice and potatoes to boil in heavy large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Heat butter and oil in heavy large stock pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until it begins to brown, about 8 minutes or so. Add onions, celery, garlic, carrots, thyme and bay leaf and sauté until vegetables soften, about 6 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 2 minutes to remove the raw flour flavor. (Note: I always find that 1/4 cup of flour is not enough, but 1/3 cup is too much. Usually, a heaping 1/4 cup is just about right).
Gradually add reserved juices from clams, whisking thoroughly. Allow to heat for a few minutes to thicken. Add some (or all of the) potatoes from the potato/clam mixture. Use an immersion blender to smooth out the chunks of vegetables. (It doesn’t need to be completely velvety – simply blend to your preferred texture. I like to leave small lumps of onions, celery and carrots visible.)
Add the rest of the potato mixture (including liquid), clams, half-and-half or cream, fish sauce*, Worcestershire sauce and hot pepper sauce. Simmer chowder 5-10 minutes to blend flavors, stirring frequently (do not allow to boil or the cream will curdle). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
(Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. Bring to simmer before serving.)