Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Tales from the Kitchen Classic: How to Make Clam Chowder
Take three adults, buy them shellfish licenses. Bring buckets, shovels and eight children to the beach. Dig up butter clams, manila clams, cockles, horse clams and clams you can't identify by name. Leave sand shrimp on beach, because they are either too small or are carrying egg sacs. Keep clams in large buckets of clean seawater so they don't die while you figure out what you are going to do with them.
Head back to camp. Allow everyone to ooh and ahh over your clamming abilities. Go shower the muck off. Come back to eat lunch, and allow the clams to exude their sand into the water.
At dinner time, steam the smaller clams with butter, lemon juice and garlic and serve up with the hot dogs, bratwursts, cashew chili, potato salad, baked beans and chips. While all the kids are clamoring to make s'mores, thwart them by putting a giant pot of large clams to cook directly on the fire so they have to wait, because you realize they will run out of oxygen in the buckets and die if you don't. Do this twice.
Remove shells and store clam guts in a ziplock bag in the cooler overnight. After cleaning up the campsite the next day, start lunch. Assign someone else to degut the clams and chop up the meat. This includes skinning the "neck" and chopping it, too. Have someone else dice the leftover potatoes. Set the giant pot (washed) over the fire and cook four strips of bacon and the leftover onions (about two cups) from the bratwurst together with some butter and the last of the garlic. Do this until the bottom of the pot appears to be ready to fall out. Add about two thirds of a gallon of whole milk, so you don't have to bring it back home. Stir, stir, stir. Add the potatoes, clams and a bit of half and half. Season with salt and pepper.
Let simmer while you pack up the camp site. When the galloping hordes descend to let you know that they are starving, decide it is cooked enough. Remember after you serve up that there was a whole bunch of celery you could have diced up and sauteed along with the onions, garlic and bacon. Decide that it doesn't really matter.
Eat with lovely toasted whole wheat rolls, leftover potato salad and soggy corn chips.
Bask in the compliments and wonder of those around you who are astonished that you can make such a dish with no recipe, and only the leftovers from camp.
Originally posted June 28, 2005 to Tales from the Kitchen
Here is a photo of those clams we dug up on the camp out. Enjoy!