New England is known for Boston or New England-style chowders. In fact, you can find different styles of clam chowder in different regions across the country. Some use tomatoes and vegetables, some use salt pork, some are broth based and some finish with cream. But the best known is the favourite New England style.
New Englanders use the Native American term quahog for the clams. The name quahog derives from the Narragansett Indian name for clams; ‘poquauhock.’ Quahogs replaced fish in the fish-milk stews of coastal England and France to become New England chowder. Since the middle 1700s this chowder has been savoured as a delicious bowl of comfort on a spoon. (Did you know Herman Melville, American novelist, devoted a whole chapter in his famous 1851 book Moby Dick to chowder? He writes of the Try Pots, a chowder house in Nantucket, Massachusetts, which served only cod or clam chowder.
2 cups clam meat (about 2 1/2 pounds of whole clams, avoid using canned meat)
12-ounces stout beer
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 strips bacon, diced
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium potatoes, cubed
4 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups pan broth
2 cups milk or light cream (heavy cream for more richness)
3 tablespoons flour
Parsley for Garnish
Soak clams in salt water mixed with cornmeal for two to four hours to help remove sand.
Rinse and clean the clams, then steam in half the beer just until shells open.
Remove clams and cool; reserve broth in pan.
Remove meat from shells and chop coarsely.
Fry onions and bacon in butter until onions are golden.
Over medium heat add broth from pan plus remaining beer to make two cups.
Add potatoes and thyme leaves; salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to a boil; simmer for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
Add in clam meat.
Stir in the milk or cream.
To thicken soup, dissolve flour in a bit of water to make a paste and stir in slowly. Simmer briefly until flour has thickened and is smooth and serve.
Pairs well with Belgian Style Saison like Steamworks / Dageraad Collaboration: East of East Van Saison Steamworks Brewing Co.