Get Your Chowder On!
If you think chowder means Clam, Manhattan or Corn, think again. In his delightful work, The Book of Chowder, Richard J. Hooker traces the origins of chowder to French fishing villages and the sailors who called at their ports. In its original sense chowder meant any dish prepared with a basic recipe and varied according to what seafood was available and the cook's preference.
Fish was the favored staple, but sometimes corn, chicken or veal was used. Hooker surmised that sailors carried the chowder recipe from France to the United States over two hundred years ago. The basic recipe was adapted over time and has now evolved into the favorites we know today: New England Clam Chowder, and Manhattan Clam Chowder. Corn Chowder also enjoys a wide audience in the Midwest along with a German variation out of the Pennsylvania Dutch area that uses spaetzle (flour and nutmeg dumplings) instead of potatoes.
Quick, while it's still cold and dark outside, why not try your hand at chowder?
Below is a basic chowder recipe by Chef Peter McCloskey of Panzanella with some ideas for variations.
For seafood chowder you can use fish, clams, mussels or shrimp. Choose a firm fish such as cod, haddock, or sea-bass. Cook your fish separately with woody-stemmed herbs such as thyme or bay and black peppercorn. This will keep the seafood especially clams from over cooking and becoming tough. Retain the stock for use in the chowder after straining. Deglaze the pot with white wine and add to stock.
For a New England-style chowder, sauté onions, celery, carrot and bacon. Add potatoes, parsley, oregano, seafood stock and milk thickened with a roux of butter & flour to cover. Simmer but do not boil till potatoes are done. Add seafood and heat through, not more than five minutes for clams.
For a Manhattan-style chowder, sauté onion, celery, and bell peppers (bacon is optional, but not traditional). Add a can of plum tomatoes crushed up as chunky as you like, fish stock, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper and potatoes. Simmer until potatoes are done. Add Seafood and heat through, not more than five minutes for clams.
For Corn Chowder make your stock with the cobs for more flavor. Sautï¿½ onion, celery, carrot and bacon or salt pork. Add potatoes and stock to cover and simmer till potatoes are done. Add corn and heat through. For fun try adding hot peppers, sausage or okra.
Portions for 4 servings:
- Two pounds of seafood
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 small carrot, diced
- 6 slices of bacon, diced
- 2 medium potatoes, diced
- 1 1/2 cups stock
- 1 1/2 cups milk, thickened with roux white wine
- 1/2 green bell pepper
- 1 Tb chopped parsley
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp oregano
- salt & pepper to taste
Our Weaver Street Market Bread Bakery suggests that you pair hearty flavorful breads such as the Desem or 100% Rye with the New England or Corn Chowders and more delicate breads such as the French Batard with the Manhattan Chowder. Weaver Street Market Wine Buyer, Peg Connoly recommends a fresh, lively and cool white from Austria, Hofer Gruner Veltliner to have with your white chowders and a charming Sangiovese from Emilia Romagna, "Romio", with warm fruit flavors and a hint of spice.