This is the time of year when I begin to fall back in love with New England. It’s funny, I once heard that being married requires falling in love over and over again, always with the same person. That’s kind of how it is to be a New Englander. We have our ups and downs with weather, times when we are fed up with the blasted cold and long winters, days when we swear we’re retiring somewhere South. That is until the dead of August when the heat and humidity are unbearable. Then the season changes and our love is restored. Am I right?!
Clam chowder is deeply rooted in our culture, and one of the great things about it, is that it doesn’t have a particular season. What it does have, is loyalists. That’s right – you know who you are. I will stand up for my New England style clam chowder and defend it vehemently. New Englanders are passionate people.
Let me reference an oldie but goodie (hello 1994 throwback):
Woodstock: What’s the password?
Ace Ventura: New England clam chowder.
Woodstock: Is that the red or the white?
Ace Ventura: Ah, I can never remember that. White.
Ace Ventura: Yes!
Anybody?? Of course it was the white, duh! I know many of you may swear by the red Manhattan style, and perhaps a certain few – the Rhode Island clear broth. I happen to have a girlfriend who proclaims to be one of these “few,” she is married to a NE style enthusiast who not-so-affectionately refers to her darling clear broth as “dirty water chowder.” I won’t name names (hehe) but it makes me laugh. Not to start trouble, even when divided, we can all agree that we love the quahog.
Any food that is surrounded by festivals and cook off’s is serious business, chowder is one of them around these parts. Chef’s and home cooks alike have come to fisticuffs (*I just wanted to say fisticuffs) over a proper chowder, though I have yet to see that happen. I can absolutely see it though, I’ve known one or two hot heads in white coats in my day…
Shockingly, my favorite New England style clam chowder recipe comes from Duke’s Chowder House in Seattle, WA. Yep, you read that right, the West Coast. Who is this Duke guy and what does he know about our beloved creamy chowder? Well, possibly a thing or two. I’ve never met the guy, and I’ve actually never set foot in his restaurant, but his Grandfather’s award winning creation is tops. It seems like every other restaurant claims to offer the best bowl in town, well I have stopped my search. This is it. I have to thank my Mother for this one, she stumbled upon it years ago and we’ve been churning it out whenever the craving hits since.
Bring it just under boiling point.
Finally, you can add the potatoes and clams.
If you diced your potatoes small enough, you can throw them in the pot with the clams and cook 2-3 minutes without worry of under-cooked crunchy pieces. If you went for larger potato pieces – blanch them first but be careful because you don’t want to end up with mush.