Growing up in New England, clam chowder is total comfort food for me. There was this place on the shore that served New England style chowder in sourdough bread bowls… oh sweet heaven. The first time I took my husband to New England to see my old “stomping grounds”, I showed him my favorite things growing up, many of which involved food. What can I say, foods are strongly linked to memories. I had already decided at that point (and so had he) in our dating that we were meant to be. Aww, we were grad students, young and in love….
And we still are (well, not grad students anymore thank goodness, but in love yes!). Last week we celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary. Two years ago, after the wedding, we decided to spend our honeymoon on the New England seashore, in all of its chilly windy awesomeness, at Cape Cod in Provincetown. We ate lobster, wine, linguica, squash soups, gelato, and of course, clam chowder. It was an absolutely perfect week of incredible food, awesome scenery, and total relaxation.
And so now, whenever I make clam chowder, I think of my childhood, I think of all my memories at the shore, and of course I remember the great times I’ve had with my husband after we professed our love and life-long commitment to each other.
Living en Suisse (a land-locked nation), we have been making clam chowder with Italian clams. This version of chowder is NOT traditional New England clam chowder. I committed some high sins of New England clam chowder (peas, paprika, etc…), but don’t let that deter you. Part of our joy of cooking and having tasty meals together is reinventing them, to make our own new memories. And so I have reinvented this chowder a bit. It’s still all comfort food. All satisfying. Perfect for memories, and perfect for celebrating simple, unfailing love.
Happy Anniversary Honey.
Adapted from New England Clam Chowder by Kate Ramos on Chow
1 kg clams, cleaned, dead ones discarded
1/4 lb. bacon, diced
2 medium onions, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c. AP flour (gluten free if need-be)
1/2 c. white wine
2 c. diced potatoes
1 tbs. herbes de Provence
1 bay leaf
1 tbs. paprika
1 cup. frozen peas
3/4 c. cream
tabasco to taste
parsley for garnish
1. Steam the clams in a large pot with about 2 cups of water, lid on, high heat. Let them cook until they’ve all opened up, around 5 minutes or so. Drain and reserve the clam-broth.
2. Shell the clams, discard any that didn’t open up. Coarsely chop the meat.
3. Render the bacon until crispy in a large pot on med-high heat. Add in the onions, carrot, and garlic and allow to cook for about 10 minutes in the bacon fat until tender. Add in flour and stir, cooking for a couple more minutes.
4. Deglaze with wine. Then add in the potatoes, broth, and herbs and paprika. Bring to a boil and then bring heat down to a simmer and cook covered until potatoes are tender.
5. Add in peas, and continue to cook until soft (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the cream. Add in tabasco to taste and garnish with parsley if desired.