Sunday, February 24, 2008
Say It, Frenchy! Say "Chowdah!"
It wasn't until this past year, when I dragged my non-pork-eating roommate to Chowderfest, that I realized that most commercially-produced clam chowders contain bacon. Stupid of me? Probably. But I had my reasons.
Growing up, clams skeeved me out. Fried clams from any of the regional clam shacks were traditionally summer food, but the clam bellies were just gross to me - gritty and weirdly salty and not at all appealing. The only way I would eat them - the only way I would trust them - was in my mom's clam chowder. She only makes her chowder about once a year, usually when the whole family is down the Cape, ready to head off for a day at the beach. My mother, who is of the persuasion that soup is not a meal, thinks that something that contains butter, cream, and milk is a perfect food to consume before laying out in the hot sun.
Fortunately, I've gotten past my abhorance of clams - they're still not my favorite, but I'll eat them. I've come to see clam chowder as a showcase for the shellfish, but my mother's clam chowder is still what I consider Clam Chowder. The recipe quite clearly is lacking any bacon, which is why I'm always so confused by bacon-y chowders.
Anyway, although clam chowder is traditionally a summer food in my family, the cold and snowy weather have gotten me in a mood for warm and hearty meals. This was my first stab at the recipe, and I think it measured up to my childhood memories.
Mom's Clam Chowder
1 stick butter
2 white onions, chopped
2 large potatoes, small cubes
3 Tbsp. flour
3 cans minced clams
1 pint heavy cream
2-3 cups whole milk
salt and pepper
In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and potatoes and saute until onions are translucent. Stir in flour until incorporated and cook to form a roux. Add clams (including the juice in the cans), cream, and 2 cups of milk and stir. Cover and simmer over low heat until potatoes are soft, about an hour. Add extra milk if you like a thinner broth. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve with oyster crackers.
*The title of this post? A salute to Massachusetts' own Quimby family.