The South Bend (Ind.) Tribune casts the Super Bowl as the battle of the chowders -- Manhattan red vs. New England white. (It beats chowder vs. soft pretzels.)
We asked Alan Perry, chef at Orchard Hills Country Club in Buchanan, to explain how. He says the process is similar for both varieties.
This goes a long way towards explaining why many of us prefer Rhode Island clam chowder, without milk, without tomatoes -- the base is the juice the clams release into the broth in which they are steamed; steaming opens them, and releases clam broth. (Recipe at the end.)
Fortunately, the gluey chowder is not the published recipe, which comes from Yankee Magazine's current issue:
New England Clam Chowder
7 pounds cherrystone clams, scrubbed and rinsed
In a large soup pot over high heat, add clams to 3 cups water. Bring to a boil and cook just until clams open, about 10 minutes. Remove clams from broth and set aside. (Discard any clams that don't open.) Strain broth through a sieve lined with a coffee filter and set aside.
Clean your soup pot; then over medium-high heat, sauté bacon until it's browned and fat is rendered. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon to a paper towel. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat. Add diced onion to the pot and sauté until translucent.
Stir in flour and cook 1 minute, being careful not to brown. Whisk in reserved clam broth. Add potatoes and thyme, and simmer 10 minutes.
Remove clams from shells, reserving liquid, and chop roughly. Strain liquid; then add clams and liquid to the pot. Stir in parsley and cream and cook just long enough to heat clams through, about 3 minutes.
Recipe from epicurious.com, originally published in Gourmet, March 2004.
Treat yourself to fresh clams for this recipe -- they make all the difference. This dish originated in Rhode Island during the late 19th century, when, as story has it, Portuguese immigrants added tomatoes to their chowder. British New Englanders believed their creamy chowder to be superior and named the Portuguese version after Manhattan, presuming that New Yorkers were the only people crazy enough to add tomatoes.
Active time: 30 minutes
Start to finish: 45 minutes
2 bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch squares
Cook bacon in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to moderately low, then add onion, bell pepper, and celery and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in potato, bottled clam juice, and tomatoes (with juice) and simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Stir in clams and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until clams open wide, 8 to 10 minutes. (Discard any clams that after 10 minutes have not opened.) Remove pan from heat.
Remove most of clamshells with tongs, then detach clams and return them to chowder. (Keep a few in their shells for garnish.) Stir in parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
Note: Chowder, without clams or parsley, can be made 1 day ahead. Bring to a simmer before adding clams and proceeding.
Clear: Rhode Island clam chowder
From a "Good Neighbors" recipe exchange reader in 1999 comes a classic:
Each year, the South Kingstown Lions Club serves over 600 gallons at their South County Seafood Heritage Festival. This recipe was developed by Bob Smith; he reduced his five-gallon recipe to this one for six people.
South County Quahaug Chowder
Scrub quahaugs. Place in large kettle with water. Cover. Place over medium heat until shells open, about 5 minutes. Remove meat from shells and grind into small pieces. Discard shells. Save all liquid; set aside.
Fry salt pork to light brown in large pot. Add onions; fry lightly. Add reserved liquid plus enough water to make 8 cups.
Add potatoes, salt and pepper. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Add chopped quahaugs; bring to light boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Serves 6.
Note: Another reader suggests cooking the potatoes in the clam juice before adding the water, so they absorb the full clam flavor.