And this is why I love having my little TV show. I get to visit gorgeous sites around the North Shore, eat fabulous food and talk about it and then cook with special people like Gail “The Chowder Lady” Mathews McDonald last week and the fantastic Clark Dexter again tomorrow!
Anyway, getting off track here. I recently visited the gorgeous and historic Emerson Inn in Rockport http://www.emersoninnbythesea.com/about.htm and was given the grand tour but the Inn’s General Manager Stephan Amesoeder. What a place…..lots of history, gorgeous view, stunning ocean side pool and so much more…………….but you know what my favorite part was? The Clam Chowder of course!
Now, I need to be up front here. I am clam chowder snob. I am not giant fan of really thick chowder, I don’t like really thin chowder and if truth be told, what I really like when I make chowder is whole leftover steamers not chopped clams….but that’s for another post and another Inspired Cooking episode called “Laurie Makes Chowder Like Her Grandmother Helen Lufkin Made it a Million Years Ago.”
But Gail had me at hello. When she produced a gigantic hunk of salt pork and told me that her chowder was not thick not thin but “velvety” I couldn’t wait to try it. And believe me, friends, she knows how to make a bowl of chowder. Gail has been featured in numerous cooking and travel magazines and it was featured on Food Network’s own Bobby Flay that dubbed her “The Chowder Lady” —and he is correct. Here is a step by step recipe and how to for Gail’s Essex Clam Chowder. Be warned–this recipe a couple of gallons of chowder and can be scaled down to suit your needs.
Essex Clam Chowder
Gail Mathews McDonald (The Chowder Lady)
I Large package of Salt Pork (scored)
2 Lg. Vidalia Onions (chopped)
I Gallon fresh shucked Essex Clams
1 gallon clam juice
3 pds of red potatoes (diced)
1 ½ quarts heavy cream
1 pound butter
Fresh Ground Pepper
Start by scoring your salt pork, so when you sautéed it with the onions the juice will render out. Place the salt pork & onions in a large pot on med heat, sauté the salt pork for approx 3-4 minutes.
Adding 1 cup of clam juice so it doesn’t stick to the pan. Continue to cook a few minutes till the onions are translucent.
Then add 3 pds of diced potatoes to pan covering with the remaining clam juice, bring to a low boil, cooking them till they are tender but not mushy adding fresh ground pepper.
When they are done add the clams, butter a pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper. Shut off the pot and stir the ingredients together, then cover and let set for about 10 minutes, this will allow the butter to melt and the clams to cook slowly so they do not get to tough.
Then to finish the chowder add the cream and turn the chowder back on, bring it back up to a simmer. Then wisk in the Wondra flour slowly to thicken to your liking. Remember the chowder will continue to thicken as you cook it.
Finish with fresh ground pepper. Serve with cracker or bread croutons.
ENJOY!!! (and yes, Gail made little bread croutons that she cut out with a fish shaped cookie cutter…..gorgeous…and then garnished with a little fresh chives)