Friday, April 4, 2014

I Am A Chowderhead

No, I am not confessing to being a dolt. I am confessing to an addiction to a meal consisting of chowder and clamcakes. I am sure that many of you from less civilized parts of the world, while having heard of chowder, have never heard of a clamcake. Both of these fine comestibles are made from a hard shell clam called a quahog commonly found in my native Rhode Island waters. 

When I was much younger and dinosauers still roamed the earth, one could not get a clamcake anyplace but Rhode Island. Spies have since stolen the recipe and they are now available in many of the more gastronomically challanged areas like Massachusetts.

But I primarily want to discuss chowder. (Pronounced; chow' dah) There are strange combinations of miscellaneous items and chemicals that may be purchased in cans that claim to be chowder. I am here to tell you, in my world they are terribly mislabeled. In short, that ain't chowder.

Let us here understand what is chowder. First, take a sufficient quantity of fresh large quahogs, not little necks, not cherry stones, big chowder hogs, and steam them in enough water to make your chowder. And when I say fresh, I mean those clams better be still alive when you put them in the pot. If they don't open completely when you steam them, toss them.

Once steamed, chop up the meat fine and filter the liquid through cheese cloth. In an appropriate stock pot render some salt pork. Use the drippings to cook some onions to transparency along with some celery. Add the stock and clams. Cut some potatoes into half inch chunks and add them. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked. Add some dill and you have real chowder.

That's it. Nothing else needed. OK, up in Massachusetts they add milk or cream. They still call it chowder. It's OK, but it's kinda like buying a Bolex instead of a Rolex. It might fool some people, but you know in your soul, you cheated or got cheated.

There is one other topic that I must deal with. It is distasteful, but I must. There are barbarians in New York that make something called Manhattan clam chowder. No seriously. The put tomatoes in it for God sake! Tomatoes! That is not chowder. It is clam flavored tomato soup. Ordering that and thinking that you are getting chowder is like buying a Chinese Rolls Royce. It is just not the same.

Now you know how to make real chowder. You'll have to sort out the quantities. I don't know how much you need. But if you make it, maybe you can find a Rhode Islander to make clamcakes for you.  

1 comment:

  1. Incidentally, the term "chowder head" was used by (among others) The Three Stooges in the early 1900's. The term comes from the pot or kettle it was cooked in, and a 'chowderhead' has a large oddly-shaped head, or so intends the insult. But I'm not from around heyah, so I will defer to you regarding the tasty substance you call chowda!