RHODE ISLAND CLAM CHOWDER
Talking to Easterners about Chowder is a delicate matter. The soup, originally said to have been made by Breton fisherman plying the waters off Newfoundland, has developed its own mythology and is claimed as authentic by nearly every town or region along the Altantic coast. From the ancient Fish n’ Brewis Cod Chowder of Newfoundland to southern versions which incorporate various other types of fish, clams and vegetables, interpretations of the soup are based on local ingredients and tradition and usually include some kind of fish or clam (or both), a starch like hard-tack, potatoes or roux and some type of smoked or salted pork like bacon.
Phil’s Rhode Island Clam Chowder is based on an old recipe that incorporates the Island’s favourite mollusc (and the state’s official shellfish) the Quahog. This rather large bivalve is steamed and cut up into small bits and then added to the soup. Other traditional ingredients include bacon, roux and potatoes.
This year is the Chowder’s 10th birthday and it has taken on a bit of Toronto’s multicultural character with the addition of Trinny pepper sauce, Worcestershire Sauce and PEI bar clams.
It is served each year at “Quest for Chowder”. This explains the large quantities for the ingredients. In brackets are amounts to make about 20 cups of chowder.
• 7 lbs of low salt bacon (1lb)
• 10 large onions (2 medium onions)
• 67 cups potatoes (10 cups)
• 16 lbs frozen bar clams (2.5 lbs)
• 60 Quahog clams (10)
• Light roux: 5.4 cups of flour and 5.4 cups of fat (3/4 cups each)
• 60 cups of broth, potato water and quahog broth (3/4 to ¼) (9 cups in proceeding proportions)
• 7.2 litres of homo milk (1 litre)
• Plus spices to taste: Trinidad pepper sauce, salt, pepper, clam juice, thyme, Cajun Spice, Worcestershire sauce, salt
1. Cook diced bacon (¼” to ½” dice) until most fat is rendered out and remainder is brown but soft crispy and set aside.
2. Sauté coarsely chopped onions until translucent.
3. Peel and slice potatoes into 1” cubes. Parboil, drain and reserve liquid.
4. Wash and brush and quahogs. Fill muslin bag and boil until quahog shells open. Remove bag and drain. Reserve liquid. Remove tough meat of the abductor muscle and finely dice. Coarsely chop the clams to medium size.
5. Defrost bar clams, rinse, parboil bar clams. Reserve liquid. Finely dice clams.
6. Make a light roux from flour and bacon fat. Add roux slowly to 60 cups of the hot reserved liquid (3/4 potato water to 1/4 clam water)
7. Add all chopped ingredients (potatoes, onions, bacon). Bring to serving temperature, add clams and milk, adjust seasonings and calm and potato liquids and serve.
Yields 140 X 6 oz servings
Phil Goodwin’s Comments: “I’ve served this chowder at the annual “Quest for Chowder” in aid of the East Don Parkland Partners held at Rodney’s Oyster House on King Street in Toronto. Filé powder can be added to thicken the chowder after the roux has been added. The quahog clams could be rinsed for 20 minutes in cold water to make the clams yield any sand”.