What Makes Chowder CHOWDER?

by Charlie ~ September 14th, 2008. Filed under: East Coast Recipes, Soups, Chowders and Stews | Print Print

From the rocky coast of Maine to the lazy shores of Maryland, Chowders are bubbling away just waiting for Charlie to stop in for some comfort in a bowl! However, depending on where you are, Charlie says the answer to the question, “what makes a chowda chowda” will be very different!

Charlie loves traveling along the northern coast of New England, where he can always find his favorite chowders-those one-pot meals made fresh, in an area where clams-hard-shell clams called quahogs to be exact, are the freshest anywhere, and always in abundance. Quahogs, available all year round, are actually grown-up cherrystones and used for chowders because of their size and flavor. Every recipe will tell you to make your chowda a day ahead of time which, after a day of slow-simmering on the stove, gives the flavors time to mingle and intensify and the clams time to tenderize. Make sure you save the liquid that you use to steam and open the clams and you’ll be well on your way in making the perfect chowder.

From the tip of Cape Cod to Boston and points north, chowder and it’s ingredients are fiercely defended and include; clams, potatoes, onions, crispy bits of salt pork, and of course, milk or cream and always finished with a dab of butter on top-Ingredients that are the law in these parts!

A Boston trained chef developed our New England Clam Chowder. Definitely hearty �� lots of cream & potatoes �� but made with a delicate hand so as not to overpower some of the most tenderest of clams we’ve tasted.

What about Tomato-based-Manhattan chowder? Well, Charlie’s new to this concept of tomatoes in chowder, but tells us it’s prit-tee tasty too, just a different breed, a healthy cousin of its’ northern version. Believe it or not, Rhode Islanders first started adding chopped tomatoes to their chowder, a practice that brought down unrelenting contempt from the tip of Cape Cod to Maine. For no discernable reason this version of chowder came to be called “Manhattan Clam Chowder. The folks on Long Island believed that their version of clam chowder needed tomatoes for flavor and were adamant about merging the garden and the sea. A steaming hearty vegetable soup, Manhattan clam chowders are brothy, not creamy and sometimes begin with a chicken stock instead of fish stock. Our Manhattan Style Clam Chowder is chock full of clams, potatoes, bell peppers and other vegetables seasoned with cayenne pepper to give it a little kick. This is not just good �� it’s actually good for you.

Marylanders, wanting no part of the Long Island tomatoes versus New England’s cream base controversy, added corn to their chowders and sometimes chicken in some parts. Roasted kernels, fresh off the cob, give this chowder a wonderfully earthy flavor, perfect for the late summer evening feast. Add some chili peppers and a sprinkling of crushed red pepper and now you’re talking goood eaten.

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