It is with great pleasure that I’m sharing my version of a Rhode Island clam chowder, not a New England, and certainly not a Manhattan, Long Island, Maine nor any bastardizations of a chowder from the southern states such as New Jersey, Delaware, and a Minorcan style which took root in the St. Augustine area of Florida where Spanish Minorcan’s settled in the 18th century.
Full disclosure right at the top, my recipe does not call for bacon or heavy cream nor do I make a traditional roux of melted butter, flour and milk but I do use quahogs and little neck clams.
Between the seasonable Fall weather, the wacky vibe of Halloween, & Day of the Dead and reminiscing already about the joys of the summer quahoging off of Coatue on Nantucket with our feet and the chowder I whipped up on board a private sailing yacht I made a B-line to the Mott Street Super store, NewYorkMart for quahogs & clams.
I picked up 6 quahogs (large, hard shelled clams) and about a dozen and a half little necks.
The rest of the ingredients: potatoes, onion. garlic, wine & the secret ingredient, a splash of rum are staples. Then I picked up a baguette & a celeriac root which I went with over the fennel I typically use since I have an aversion to celery and felt the celeriac root was a more regional ingredient and would really add the perfect flavor and body to the chowder.
Just last weekend I went to a send off party for friends that will be Dlivering yachts to the Caribbean & my friends served up soupe de poisson, fish soup, more than enough for 40, plus they served toasted baguette with a rouille. I did the same by toasting sliced baguette and rubbing each slice with a fresh garlic clove. Then I made a Recipe$ 4 Survival adaptation of a rouille by mixing smoked paprika, a squeeze of lemon juice & a pinch of red pepper flakes into an all organic olive oil mayo.
Most important, I hope my recipes are simply spring boards for your imagination and you’ll make my recipes your own.
INGREDIENTS I USED:
4-6 Quahogs – well washed so any and all grit is removed
1 – 1.5 dz clams, well washed so any and all grit is removed little necks vs Manila so you’re working w/regional ingredients – if that matters to you. It does me.
2 sprigs of thyme
1 celeriac root, fennel or celery – medium dice or thinly sliced or 1/2″ pieces
2 large yukon gold or red bliss potatoes or fingerling – medium diced
1 large yellow onion – medium dice
½ head of garlic – dents smashed & roughly chopped
3/4 C – white wine. I use a Sauvignon blanc or a dry Chardonnay
AND – the secret ingredient – a shot of R(h)um
Baguette – toasted slices
Rouille or a garlic aioli condiment
WHAT I DID:
I began by steaming off the quahogs in a heavy bottomed pot in about 1 inch of well salted water, a wedge of onion a few bay leaves a few smashed garlic cloves & a sprig of thyme. These opened in about 8 minutes of cooking time over a medium heat with a top on so they steam. I poured all the contents into a large serving bowl. The water which started with as I said about an inch well well over 4 cups now. I prepared the little necks the exact same way. They cooked off in about 4 – 5 minutes. They too were turned out into a large serving bowl so they could cool & I could pick their muscle out and chop them up.
While the clams were cooling I prepared the celeriac which seems like a beast to work with but remember, you’re the one with the knife. Lob the bottom off, then the top, then slice the skin off, cut in half and slice & medium dice like any potato or apple. Then, leaving the skin on, I prepped 3 fingerling & 2 red bliss potatoes, then I diced 1/2 of the large onion.
In a heavy bottomed pot add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. Add the onion, celeriac & potatoes. Let this cook down over a medium to low heat to avoid getting any color. Stir gently frequently. Add about 3 cups of the clam broth liquid. When the veg have reached a toothsome texture add all the remaining clam broth liquid and cook for another 20 minutes or so – over a low heat. When all the ingredients are perfectly tender, turn off the heat, wait a good 5 minutes then add the chopped up clams.
While the soup was cooking I sliced & toasted off 1/2 of a baguette in the broiler in my oven. This took no time at all. Then I rubbed the toast with a fresh garlic clove and did the same on the flip side. Then I prepared a Recipe 4 Survival version of a rouille: 1 C all organic olive oil mayo, a squeeze of a lemon wedge, a T of smoked paprika & a pinch of red pepper flakes.
My Discerning French friend immediately prepared 2 baguette toasts with the Recipe$ 4 Survival version of a rouille, floated them in her bowl of soup and Dclared it a perfect 10. My Rhode Island native friend, he did not immediately include the baguette toast but he had no words for how much he loved it. They both ooo’d and ahhh’d while I poured the rest of the Chardonnay into our glasses, sat down and drank up myself
I guess this is why I feel I can call this a clam chowdahhh.