Recipe by Vic Damoth
After years of watching my New England relatives try to perfect their versions of this venerable seaside staple and several morphs and versions of my own, this has become my favorite. It yields a hearty delicious chowder that is not too thick. It is also forgiving enough that you can tweak it a bit to make it more healthy. For parties, I make this recipe as follows then place it in a crock pot on low. Guests eat it all day and there are never any leftovers!
- 1 (51 ounce) can clams (chopped or minced, Costco or BJ's carries these size cans)
- 3 lbs Red Bliss potatoes (you won't have to peel the bliss!) or 3 lbs maine utility potatoes (you won't have to peel the bliss!)
- 6 ounces salt pork
- 3 celery ribs
- 1 large onion
- 2 cups milk (I use 2%)
- 1⁄2 cup butter
- 1⁄4 cup flour
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary, in cheesecloth or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, in a tea ball
- salt and pepper
Directions See How It's Made
- Dice the salt pork into small cubes.
- I usually slice it into a grid while it is still attached to the skin, then slice across the skin where it attaches to the fat and the cubes pop off easily.
- Sauté the salt pork in a large 5 quart non stick sauce pan.
- When the cubes are golden brown strain them from the rendered fat onto a paper bag to drain.
- Save 4 tablespoons of the liquid fat from the salt pork,then wipe out the sauce pan with a paper towel.
- Put the fat back in the sauce pan.
- Dice the large onion into small pieces.
- Slice the 3 ribs of celery lengthwise then dice it into small pieces.
- Place the diced onion and celery into the heated pork fat and sauté until the onions are opaque and the celery is a bit soft.
- Pour the entire can of clams (broth and all) into the onion/celery mixture and bring to a simmer.
- Place the rosemary into the clam broth mixture.
- Peel the Maine potatoes OR scrub the red bliss potatoes.
- Then cut them into 3/4-inch cubes--I like them a bit chunky--and soak them in cold water for about five minutes.
- Take the stick of butter and melt it in a small sauce pan.
- Add the 3 tablespoons of flour to the melted butter and stir until well blended.
- Drain the potatoes and place them into the clam mixture, simmer until al dente.
- Next, pour the 2 cups of milk into the simmering clam broth mixture and bring back to a simmer.
- Lastly, swirl the butter/flour roux into the chowder and simmer for about 10 more minutes until the chowder thickens.
- Remove the rosemary and serve this chowder in big bowls with oyster crackers and the pieces of golden brown pork fat, salt and pepper to taste.
- NOTE: I don't like my chowder too thick so you may have to adjust the butter/flour mixture.
- You may skip the butter and use a low-fat margarine.
- You may also substitute skim milk too (or skip the milk altogether, this is called Point Judith/Rhode Island style!).
- You may even skip the whole pork fat thing for a healthier recipe.
- This chowder is so hearty that it stands up well to "healthier alternative" substitutions.