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Aug 23, 2000 12:34 PM

Those Chowdah folks...

  • m

While up on Swan's Island off of Bass Harbor a few weeks back, I had a chance to clear up some chowdah related problems.
1. All chowdah is not glue
2. Great chowdah does not have to be made with a roux
3. Freshly gathered clams are necessary
4. When travelling in Maine, there is a lot of bad chowdah out there.
Recipe as follows: disclaimer: I taste while I go, so exact salt and pepper amounts are to taste only(!!!!)
Freshly gathered clams, preferably from icy Maine waters. Think 1 pound per person. So I use about 5 pounds of clams with a Quart or two of water and about 1/2 bottle of white wine. Steam the clams in water with a good splash of white wine and 6-7 well chopped shallots. Strain any sand from the stock and set aside. Remove clams from shells. In a soup kettle, put about 2-3 tablespoons of butter, with some well chopped onion and some thick bacon chopped into chunks. SLOWLY cook until bacon is browned and onions are clear, low and slow is best. Add whatever you want as your base,clams, corn, haddock, fish heads, what have you. Ladle the stock over the above, and DO NOT BOIL
Now you have a nice clear stock, taste, season, and cream out if you want. Add fresh chopped herbs from your garden, mixed, whatever you want to use. I prefer 1/2 and 1/2, but this is up to the personal taste of the chowhounds!It is even better the next day.. See, you can make chowdah without a roux! DO NOT BOIL!!!

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  1. Do the good folks of Swan's Island put wine, herbs, and shallots into their chowders? This was definitely news to me. Sounds delicious, of course. My final secret has always been to let the flavors meld off the heat for a few hours and it's always better the next day after a night in the fridge. pat.

    8 Replies
    1. re: pat hammond

      I wonder where you'd actually *find* shallots on Swans Island....

      1. re: MU

        I brought the shallots from the Shaws in Ellsworth, although my friend who lives on the island year round grows em between the rows of swiss chard in his garden.
        You would be surprised who owns land up here. The Rockefellers own about 70% of the island.
        Many of the residents are from away. Not as Provincial as you may think.

      2. re: pat hammond

        I got my recipe from the years that I worked at Alberta's in Portland.

        1. re: Mr. W.

          I'm definitely going to try it, come Winter, and I'm closer to the main ingredients. And the idea of not adding and milk or cream appeals to me. That's what I'm going to try, anyway. Thanks, pat

          1. re: pat hammond

            I admit that a little whipping cream at the end does add a nice touch, but cutting in some potatoes may just do the trick.
            You can also cut in some of that nice Maine swiss chard.
            Almost any leafy green makes for nice chowdah!
            The clams are wicked good right now, why wait!

            1. re: Mr. W.

              Why wait? Because I'm in St. Louis! pat

              1. re: pat hammond

                Just run down to your local fish market and get yourself a few pounds of little neck clams, steam 'em up... put on the stereo.. slap in a record with the sounds of waves crashing on the rocks... pour yourself a nice glass of Geary's pale ale, from portland maine..
                (instant maine experience)
                or better yet, get on a plane and fly up to maine for a long weekend!

                1. re: Mr. W.

                  Even better than hopping on a plane for a long Maine weekend, I'm going to be moving to Maine at the end of October for what I hope will be a long life!pat
                  p.s. I'd rather use steamers.