July 30, 2008

Rhode Island Clam Chowder

Some friends spent a week in Rhode Island and fell in love with Rhode Island clam chowder, which is based on a clear broth. So when I stumbled across this recipe, I thought of them and I include an edited version of it here. I do not think quahogs are available in California; I suspect that gooseneck clams are about as close as you're going to get here. I'm excited to make it and try it myself.

10 to 12 quahogs in the shell
1/4 pound salt pork, diced to ½-inch cubes
1/2 cup onions, diced into ¼-inch cubes
3 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional; I understand this is quite controversial among Rhode Islanders)

Scrub the quahogs and rinse clean under cold running water. Discard any that aren't tightly closed; they are dead and not good to eat. Put quahogs in stockpot and cover with 6 cups of cool water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover the pot and cook about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove clams as soon as they open; don't overcook them. (Rubbery clams, yuck. -- TL) When the shells cool enough to handle, remove the cooked quahog meat and chop finely. Meanwhile, keep clam broth warm.

In a large saute pan, cook the salt pork over medium heat until the fat renders and the meat is browned and crisp. (This would be good with pancetta, too. -- TL) Remove meat, set aside. Add onions, cook in pork fat until translucent but not browned. Add skillet contents, including pan scrapings, to stockpot; deglaze the frying pan with a ladle of broth and return to pot. Raise heat and bring broth to a gentle boil and add potatoes. (Maybe a touch of chive or green onion? -- TL) Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.

When potatoes soften, stir in the salt pork. Season with white pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Return cooked quahogs and heat through for a minute before serving.

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