By Request: What do you know about clear chowder?
Red is Manhattan, white is New England. That’s clam chowder 101. Moving up to clam chowder 201: Clear is Connecticut, or some call it Rhode Island-style.
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Red is Manhattan, white is New England. That’s clam chowder 101.
Moving up to clam chowder 201: Clear is Connecticut, or some call it Rhode Island-style.
Extra credit: The definition of a chowder is a chunky soup, usually seafood, creamy or not.
These are all lessons learned since I got back from my summer vacation to Boston, with a side trip to Connecticut, where I enjoyed a chunky clam chowder that was billed simply as “clear.” It was so delicious I decided to make it my post-vacation recipe mission (I always have one of these, it stretches out my vacation glow).
Once home I found recipes easily — the key elements were a good quantity of clams, salt pork (sold in supermarkets near other pork products), celery and thyme. But I had to make adjustments in the main ingredient due to clam geography. The preferred New England chowder clam is the large and meaty quahog, which can weigh in at just three per pound. Around the Pacific, much smaller manila clams are most common, although I did find venus clams, which are larger but still puny compared with a quahog.
My venus clams, steamed in their shells, made a lovely broth, but yielded very little meat, less than a cup. To create the chunky, clammy soup I was after would have been prohibitively expensive.
So, a switch in gears. I’m calling my soup a shellfish chowder, the fresh clams filled out with frozen mussels (or canned clams if you prefer). I’m sure this would be frowned upon in New England, so let’s not tell anyone over there.
CONNECTICUT-STYLE SHELLFISH CHOWDER
By Betty Shimabukuro
- 4 pounds clams in the shells (the largest you can find)
- 4 cups water
- 1/4 pound salt pork, diced (or thick-sliced bacon)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups diced onion
- 1 cup sliced celery
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1-1/2 pounds red potatoes, peeled and diced (about 4 cups)
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1-1/2 cups chopped cooked mussels or additional clams (may be frozen or canned)
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
Scrub clam shells and rinse well; place in large pot with water. Bring to simmer, then cover and cook until all clams open (discard any that don’t open), about 15 minutes. Remove clams, then strain broth well to remove any grit. Remove clams from shells and chop.
Wipe out pot. Saute pork in oil over medium-high until just starting to brown. Add onions and celery; saute until softened. Add wine, stirring to scrape up any brown bits in bottom of pan. Stir in potatoes.
Add clam broth and thyme to pot. Bring to simmer and cover; cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove thyme sprigs.
Stir in additional shellfish. Garnish with parsley. Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 330 calories, 17 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 950 mg sodium, 24 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 19 g protein.
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