Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cape Cod Clam Chowder

My daughter's friend has been begging me to make clam chowder. Since I was planning my birthday party, I figured it would be a good time. The big issue was the clams. Where to buy same? On Friday, we had son and fiancee over to dinner. I had planned to make clam cakes, and so went to the fish store. Fish store did not have clams in containers, or more accurately, the only containers the clams came in were shells. So clam cakes were thrown to the winds in favor of what ended up to be half of two recipes, so I didn't get any credit for that meal.
The birthday party was Sunday. Saturday, I went around to Whole Foods, where amazingly enough, they had clams in plastic containers. Clams are also a very reasonably priced shellfish. Now, this recipe for clam chowder is one of those "Day before..." recipes. The cook is supposed to put in everything but the milk the day before, to make what Hewitt refers to as the base. However there were problems. Also on Saturday, we hosted a church potluck of folks from my husband's church. So, because I was cooking for that, I could not make the base ahead of time as required in the recipe.
It seemed like it turned out fine anyhow. It is an easy recipe. Modern food packing technology makes it unnecessary to grind the clams in the no-longer-owned meat grinder. They are chopped when they are packed. It was a great party too.
In case the idea of a medium sized onion sends you into a tizzy, think of balls. Small onions are the size of ping pong balls. Medium onions are between a ping pong ball and a baseball. Large onions are the size of a softball. Also, since the recipe calls for 24 clams, you may wish to know how that translates to packaged clams. I put in a pound of clams, and that seemed to be fine.

Cape Cod Clam Chowder

1/2 pound bacon, finely diced
2 medium sized onions, finely chopped
3 cups diced potatoes (this is about 6 medium potatoes, chopped up)
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon basil
2 cups boiling water
24 chowder clams (preferably large quahogs) ground, liquor and all, through medium blade of food grinder. (See introduction to recipe.)
1 quart of milk

1. Saute the bacon and onions in a large kettle until onions are tender and golden. Pour off excess fat. (There may not be any excess fat. I had to add vegetable oil in order to get the onions to saute.)
2. To the kettle, add the potatoes, salt, oregano, basil and water and let simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Add the clams. This is the base. (See note to prepare chowder.)
Note: Next day, add to base one quart of milk, two tablespoons butter and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Heat.
Makes about 8 servings.

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