Cha Cha Chowda Wheels!
Even though we are in the dead of winter, the days are getting longer and this seems to be keeping my spirits bright. Instead of the sun setting at 4:30 it’s pushing past 5:00pm! But come dinnertime it’s still dark and I have been looking for something to really warm my body and my soul. As cliché as it may be, the answer seems to be soup…or chowder.
New England Clam Chowder can be a mouthful, literally. For the purpose of this article let’s bring out our thickest Boston ascents and cut it down to chowder. Chowder, the word itself sort of just rolls off the tongue quite nicely. Try saying it, “I want some chowder”. It might as well be a fact that half of the population of the United States loves chowder and the other half despises everything about it. Either way chowder is a culinary delight that many cooks hold very near and dear to their hearts.
As a child I would take family trips to New England to visit relatives and one of the first things that came out of my Dad’s mouth upon arrival was “Let’s get some chowder”. He was a homegrown Massachusette and coming back to the homeland meant it was time to chow down on some chowder! My parents New England roots made it easy to slide into the chowder comma. But I always wondered where it all started…
A Brief History of New England Clam Chowder
Chowder – noun – a thick soup or stew made of clams, fish, or vegetables, with potatoes, onions, and other ingredients and seasonings.
Before the French and Indian War, before the Boston Tea Party and before the American Revolution came chowder. The word chowder came about around 1751 from the French word Chaudière, which means “a pot”. The term chowder wasn’t introduced in North America until 1819, when Breton fisherman started sling it around at the docks in Newfoundland. From there the term spread like wildfire to; Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and finally New England. Originally the chowders had a variety of ingredients ranging from meat, poultry, wine, spices, herbs and cider. Traditionally the chowders were thickened with crushed crackers or ship biscuits all mashed up. From here chowder hightailed it into Manhattan-style chowder, where tomatoes replace the milk. Ultimately chowder made it into the Midwest and South as Corn Chowder.
Hopefully if we include New England Clam Chowder, Manhattan-style Chowder, Corn Chowder and the Key West classic Conch Chowder we will be able to bring the chowder loving population up to at least 90%. Also note, chowder is best enjoy with family and friends.
NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER
1 tbsp olive oil
3 stripes of bacon
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp flour
1 can of clams
3 large potatoes
2 tbsp celery leaves
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp butter
Heat oil in pan and fry bacon for 3-4 minutes. Remove bacon, lower heat and fry chopped onions and garlic in the pan for 3-4 minutes; should be soft, but not browned. Chop the bacon up and add back to pan. Stir in flour slowly, forming a smooth roux. Drain clams, adding liquid to the frying pan. Add a ¼ cup of water if needed. Add the chopped potatoes, celery leaves, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Bring to boil then simmer for 30-60 minutes till potatoes are tender. Add milk if the chowder is too thick. Finally turn the heat off, add the clams and the butter and stir for 2-3 minutes. Serve warm.
Written by Nick