As the days get colder and the snow begins to pile up, it’s nice to have a cup or bowl of Clam Chowdah, not just any chowder but Cape Cod Chowdah. Over the years there have been disagreements (ok -downright arguments) over which Clam Chowdah is the best. New Yorkers feel that their Manhattan clam chowder is superior to our Cape Cod Clam Chowdah. First of all, if New Yorkers can’t pronounce the word “Chowdah” correctly then how can they expect their chowder to even be considered in the same breath with Cape Cod Chowdah. Let’s examine the so-called Manhattan chowder. The recipe, incomprehensibly, requires tomatoes. Clams and tomatoes in a Chowdah are as compatible as ketchup on pancakes or maple syrup on linguini. Tomatoes are wonderful in salads, are a must for a BLT, and in tomato, vegetable or minestrone soups but with clams, never. Tomatoes and clams should never be used in the same sentence when describing the ingredients for Chowdah. It’s sacrilegious!
Cape Cod Chowdah is the “REAL” Chowdah. Cape Cod Chowdah is loaded with clams and is rich and creamy. Manhattan chowder is watery mixture of tomato soup with a few clams tossed in. It fails on so many gastronomy levels. One wonders how New York cooks have the chutzpah to call Manhattan chowder a true CHOWDAH!!
Cape Cod Clam Chowdah
3 lbs. of littleneck clams
4 oz. slab bacon cut into small pieces
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
4 scallions, green and white parts, sliced
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
Salt (1/2 teaspoon or to taste)
Ground black pepper
2 Tbls. unsalted butter, cubed
Handful flat leaf parsley leaves, minced
Scrub and rinse littleneck clams under cold water and combine them with 1 cup of water in a medium size saucepan. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until clams open. Remove from the heat. Drain the clams, keeping and straining the juice, discard any clams not opened.
Remove the clams from their shells and keep them covered so they will not dry out.
Cook the bacon in a saucepan over medium high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and place on paper towel allowing fat to drain off. Add the celery, scallions and potatoes to the bacon fat in the same saucepan and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the scallions and celery become translucent. Add the clam juice and 1 cup of water. Continue cooking for approximately 15 minutes or until the potatoes become tender.
Over medium heat, add the milk and heavy cream, stirring from time to time for about 10 minutes, until heated through but not boiling. Add the clams and cook about 5 minutes. Season chowdah with salt and ground pepper.
Serve Cape Cod Chowdah in a bowl with a pat of butter, some chopped bacon and finely chopped parsley.
Here is a link to Captain Parker’s Pub which won the 2018 USA Today’s Reader’s Choice Award for the Best Clam Chowdah in Massachusetts!!