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Thursday Recipe: Clam Chowder

Natural Kids: Thursday Recipe: Clam Chowder

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thursday Recipe: Clam Chowder

Today's recipe comes from Beth's blog Acorn Pies. Beth posted the original article in August, but as the seasons begin their change, residents of the Northern Hemisphere may want to savor a dish that brings sandy beaches and salty water to mind.

Clam Chowder

My niece and I went quahogging last weekend. A quahog is a hard clam which grows well in estuaries from New Jersey to Cape Cod, where the water is relatively warm and salt water mingles with fresh. The word "quahog," pronounced "ko-hog," comes from the Narragansett Indians' word for the clams, "poquauhock." The Indians used the clam shells to carve "wampum," purple and white beads used for trade.

The smallest legally harvested quahog is 1 inch thick at its thickest. It is called a "little neck." The largest quahogs are called "chowders." The medium sized are called "cherrystones." It takes 3 or 4 years for a quahog to get big enough to eat. If you want to find out how quahogs are harvested, you can read about our experience here.

After letting my bucket of quahogs clean themselves out for about a day with multiple changes of fresh sea water, I scrubbed off the mud and threads of little plants which cling to the shell using a special scrub brush I use only for that purpose.

I bought two of these scrub brushes in hopes of roping someone into helping me. It takes some elbow grease to scrub quahogs, and it is messy work, so I sit outside.

Once my quahogs are clean, I put them in the pot with about an inch of water, cover, and steam them until the shells open. Discard any clams which don't open.

I save the water I used to steam the clams, and also the bit of water which is left inside the shells. This is called the "clam liquor." It is very flavorful and very salty and I use it to season my chowder.

Then I chop up the clams very finely. Clams can be chewy. They are best in tiny pieces. I also try not to look too closely at the clams and all their various parts.

Here are some of the other delicious ingredients which I put in the chowder: 2 onions, 3 or 4 unpeeled new potatoes, 2 cloves of garlic, butter, two chopped pieces of freshly fried bacon, and cream. I am making chowder with clear broth because my husband is lactose intolerant. My young son and I add some heavy cream to our bowls.

Chop the onions, mince the garlic, and gently cook them in a generous amount of butter.

Roughly chop the potatoes and cook them in water. Don't let them get too soft or they will fall apart in the chowder. Save the potato water.

Now put about 4 cups of water (or light cream or milk if you prefer) in the big soup pot, add the potatoes and potato water, the onions and garlic, some pepper, some Northern Bay leaves, (which I collected locally,) and clam liquor to taste. Go easy on the clam liquor. Last time I made my chowder too salty! Most people like their clam chowder thickened, so you can whisk some flour in a little bowl with some of the broth, and then add it to the chowder pot. Let it all warm up together. Now add the clam bits and get the soup hot.

Serve it with oyster crackers. Delicious.

Beth has populated her shop, Primroses, with a host of the sweet-faced, Waldrof-inspired dolls that she creates from natural materials. But you will also find charming hand-colored block prints, delightful collage art and even a deep-brimmed bonnet or two!



Blogger Suzanne said...

We had quohogs in August--we eat them just cooked and dipped in butter too--but chowda (Boston accent there:-) is theee best!!! My recipe is pretty much the same as yours---soooo yummy!

September 9, 2010 at 7:42 AM  
Blogger germandolls said...

That looks so yummy! My children love clams. Unfortunately they are hard to come by when you live in the Plaines...Thanks for the great recipe! If I can find some clams at the store we will definitely try this!

September 9, 2010 at 9:44 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Thanks! Revisiting this post makes me want to have clam chowder again right now! Beth

September 9, 2010 at 11:17 AM  
Blogger Lala's Pequenos said...

Thanks for the inspiration!

September 10, 2010 at 7:42 AM  
Blogger mrsbeccijo said...

Yummy, I will try this with Arrow Root instead of the flour to make it gluten free!

September 17, 2010 at 10:58 AM  

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