Clam Chowder Wars
What Makes the Best Chowder Recipes?
The best recipes for chowder are those that involve the careful blending of fresh ingredients, with the right amounts of seasonings. Bacon, onion, and potatoes are some of the main ingredients that are used as a base then different fish, clams, mussels, and other ingredients are added. Fresh thick cream and milk cooked carefully allow the flavors to blend together. One of the most important things to remember is that milk or dairy products are not meant to be heated very hot because they will curdle and make the whole dish taste bad.
Fresh seafood is preferred although not always available especially if you live in a landlocked state in the middle of the country. If you are using canned or frozen seafood, try to get the kind that is individually quick-frozen, it will work better for your recipes. Clams and some types of fish are salty, so you might want to moderate the amount of salt you are using in your chowder.
What Makes Chowder Wonderfully Unique
Chowder is unique because no matter how many times it is made, the ingredients vary and blend differently, creating a wonderful taste and texture that melts in your mouth. Combine tomatoes, clams, potatoes, and you have an entirely different taste then with the New England chowders that are heavy on cream, clams, and bacon with potatoes. The addition of one ingredient can make the whole chowder different in taste.
Chowder from different regions of the world and country are a great way to taste the way native dishes are made; because the seafood varies from place to place, the chowder will also. Generations of chowder lovers will continue to have their favorite unique dishes wherever they travel and gather to celebrate each other’s company with a warming dish of chowder.
Testimony of pulling the fish from the ocean depths, the signs of work, and the effects of sun and wind on the stern of this fishing boat shows the hard work required. The welded frame holds the wood spools of chain and line secure as they are used to bring up the fish in the early hours of the day. The cry of the gull sound overhead as yet again the fishermen bring in the bounty of seafood headed for the tables of families across the nation. Hard work needs hardy food such as chowders made from the bounty of the sea.
Clams and Thick Creamy New England Chowder
When chowder is mentioned, chances are that this type is the kind most people have in mind, thick creamy chowder with clams bursting from every bite. Chowders may be different in the west coast and south, but the New England clam chowder is a traditional dish from when the early colonists established homes on the Atlantic coast and earned their living from the sea.
Even in the middle of the summer, clam chowder is a meal worth having. Cooks have their own favorite additions and techniques to making the perfect New England Clam Chowder and that is what makes the dish so wonderful. A dozen cooks could make clam chowder and no two dishes would taste the same. Based on a broth thickened with potatoes and bacon, as are most chowder type dishes, with one or several types of clams added is a truly tempting dish after a day spent near the water.
Some of the best accompaniments to clam chowder are hot crusty bread or rolls along with fruit or cheese. Garlic, sage, and bay are commonly used in chowders and corn allows for a whole new flavor to come through. Cream or milk is also a primary ingredient in good chowder although it is important to not overheat them because they scald easily and ruin the flavor of the whole dish. If you serve this in thick bowls, the chowder will remain warm longer so your guests can spend time visiting and eating.
- 6 to 8 pieces of diced bacon
- 1 medium chopped onion
- 10 ounces baby clams with juice saved
- 7 or 8 red potatoes, cut into cubes
- 2 cans of cream of celery soup (each can 10 ½ ounces)
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 tsp. dill weed, dried
- 1 or 2 cloves of garlic minced fine
- Take a large saucepan and cook the diced bacon, garlic, and onion until the bacon is crisp and the onion is translucent.
- Add the clam juice and potatoes, let cook for at least 15 minutes until potatoes are soft.
- Stir often, so chowder does not stick.
- After fifteen minutes, add soup, clams, milk, cream, and dill.
- Stir and let simmer gently on low heat until thickened.
- Serve with thick slices of bread and fruit.
- Garnish with cheese if desired.
Succulent clams, heavy cream and potatoes all combine with bacon, onion, and garlic in one of the staple dishes of the northeastern states. New England Clam Chowder is one of the true traditional dishes of the early settlers, passed down from generation to generation. Cooks may add a few spices or blend the cream and potatoes a bit before adding the salty clams but this is a wonderful dish to try when you are cold and hungry. The smell of the clams and cream will draw you to have a second bowl of chowder and sigh in contentment.
Helpful Chowder Making Tips
Gather all the ingredients for your chowder before you start to cook. If you have fresh clams or other seafood, clean and chop beforehand, it will save time in the long run. If you have any doubt that clams are fresh and can be used safely, then toss the clam in the trash. It is better not to use it then to take a chance on becoming very sick from using a bad clam. Bacon, potatoes, and garlic are often used along with onion as the base. You might try adding different types of potatoes because red and russet or white potatoes may take a longer or shorter period of time to cook.
Add milk, cream and clams last, allowing them to heat through. Clams often get tough so be sure to watch them carefully as they cook. Do not boil after you have added milk! This is one of the steadfast rules about making chowder no matter where you live. With these tips in mind, have fun and make a pot of chowder and invite your friends over.
Manhattan Clams and Hearty Chowder
Asking a clam chowder lover which kind he or she prefers and you will likely be the recipient of a debate as to the merits of the New England clam chowder, which uses a milk or cream base and the Manhattan clam chowder which uses tomatoes as a base. The debate can become heated at times as devotees of each kind state their case. Both types are good and they are often served with thick chunks of fresh French bread and real butter.
Tomatoes and potatoes combine with the salty clams and spices to bring a terrific smell to the kitchen as well as the nose of anyone in the vicinity. The basics of a good well-cooked Manhattan clam chowder begin with the selection of ingredients. Canned or fresh tomatoes will have a bit of different flavors then tomatoes that are cooked with spices. Carrots, bay, thyme, and celery add tasty nutrients to this chowder.
Toasted croutons make a good addition to this chowder as does saltine crackers or bread. This chowder is usually not served in bread bowls like other thicker soups or chowders but it does go well with cheese bread or biscuits. This recipe makes enough clam chowder to save and have the next day or later in the evening as a snack. Refrigerate leftovers and remember not to boil after the clams are added because they toughen early.
- 5 cups of water
- 3 dozen cherry stone (quahog) clams cleaned
- 5 to 7 slices of bacon chopped fine
- 1 large onion diced fine
- 2 large carrots finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery chopped fine
- 3 to 4 medium potatoes diced fine
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 ½ teaspoons of thyme
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic minced fine
- 28 ounces can plum tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
- Using a non-aluminum stockpot, heat one cup of water to boiling. Add clams and bring to boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for five to ten minutes. Place clams to clean bowl as they open being sure to discard any that do not open. Let clams cool, then remove from shells and chop into medium pieces. Discard shells in the trash. Strain the remaining clam broth into bowl to remove any sand or bits of shell that might remain.
- Rinse stockpot if needed and then add bacon, cooking over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Allow mixture to cook until tender, stirring often. Add carrots and celery, cook for five minutes, then add the clam broth, potatoes, remaining water, thyme, bay leaf, and pepper; bring to boil.
- Reduce heat and allow it to simmer for at least ten minutes. Add tomatoes and stir, allow chowder to simmer for ten more minutes. Stir in clams and let heat, remove bay leaf and add fresh parsley. Season with salt and pepper if needed before serving.
Tomatoes peeking from the mixture of freshly cooked clams and potatoes add a burst of flavor to this Manhattan version of clam chowder. The bay leaf and parsley combine with the garlic to make your mouth water. Subtle hints of garlic, onion, and bacon drift up on the steam, it is enough to make your whole mouth water in anticipation of that first bite of clam chowder. Grab a handful of crackers or garlic croutons and you have a fantastic meal for any time of year, not just the cold of winter or crisp fall nights. You can bet company will be coming to sample this great traditional dish.
Types of Chowder
There are several types of chowder common to different regions of the United States. This is a list of the most common types and where they originated.
New England Clam Chowder– this creamy clam chowder originated in the northeastern states of the United States; it refers to chowder that has a dairy base of heavy cream, light cream or milk.
Maine style chowder relies heavily on cream for the basis of chowder.
Rhode Island style- features light cream and soupy in consistency.
Oregon style is very thick in nature.
Yorktown style has the addition of beer or ale.
Manhattan chowder has a tomato basis with different spices such as oregano and fresh parsley
Southern style- more vegetables are used and Worcestershire sauce features a prominent part in this unique chowder.
Seafood chowder is chowder with bacon, potato base and various types of seafood all cooked together in a cream or milk base.
The History Of Chowder
The history of chowder is not exactly pinpointed but it is thought to have originated from the name of the type of pot used to cook a common meal comprised of the food fishermen caught during the day. The history of the New England regions tells of fishermen from Newfoundland who may have spread the dish when they fished in the waters off of the coast of New England.
Rhode Island, Manhattan, and other sea coastal areas have all brought different types of chowders to the attention of the public as they shared meals with family and friends. The use of tomatoes and corn gave chowder new flavor, as did the southern versions as people used what seafood and other items they had to make a meal.
Waves of seawater and sun have worn the paint off of these lobster buoys over the years as they have marked the place where lobster traps were set early in the predawn hours. The net and buoys together are an example of the resilience of the people who fish these waters for their livelihood, rain or shine alike. Signs of hard work and pride, the lobster buoys hold history in every scratch and faded band of color. They are mutely telling of long hours afloat waiting for the succulent lobster to enter the traps below; bringing another day to an end.
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