Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Best Chowder in the World as Far as I'm Concerned

Chowder is one of the worlds best foods, and Gail makes the best clam chowder I've ever had. Really, I'm not kidding here. Gail's not convinced, but she's never been able to show me better. The key is the bacon and the use of milk instead of cream.

Earlier this week we had some neighbors over for dinner. Gail adapted her clam chowder recipe into corn chowder as a way to use the volume of corn that all came ripe at the same time. I love corn chowder almost as much as clam chowder. Gail's chowder base makes it great.

Along with the chowder, Gail served garden beans two ways. The first was sauteed with garden tomatoes. It was good. But the second dish, with the green beans simply roasted with oil and light salt, was the best. Gail also made a tomato, basil, mozzella salad, dressed simply with a nice olive oil.

In addition to the apple crisp Gail made for dessert, our guests brought these flavored rice candies from his recent business trip to Japan. The rice candies are jellied. The green ones tasted like tea. The black and brown ones were covered with sesame seeds and filled with bean paste. Each is delicate and lightly sweet, a fun treat.

The Best Chowder in the World
Makes 2 cups

1 T olive oil
¼ c chopped onion
½ c peeled chopped potato (higher starch potatoes will fall apart and thicken chowder; lower starch will retain shape)
1 c fish or chicken stock
½ t salt
3 oz cooked or 4 oz raw clams
2 t potato or corn starch
½ c whole milk
freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat oil in heavy soup pot over med heat. Meanwhile, chop onion; add to pot; immediately reduce heat to med-low; saute until tender, about 5 min.
  2. Meanwhile, peel potato; cut into bite-sized cubes. Drain seafood if necessary, reserving liquid;  cut seafood into bite-sized pieces. Add stock to any reserved seafood liquid to make required amount.
  3. Add potato, stock and salt. Cover; simmer until tender, 15 min.
  4. When potatoes soften, mash some right in pot with potato masher, if desired.
  5. Stir potato starch into milk until all lumps dissolved; stir into pot.
  6. Add seafood; heat through, making sure raw seafood is thoroughly cooked.
  7. Best if cooled, refrigerated overnight, and reheated.
  8. Serve with oyster crackers or in a bread bowl.
  9. Season at table with freshly ground black pepper.
  • Corn chowder: Add ½ c corn niblets per serving, either in addition to or in place of fish.
  • Add garlic.
  • Substitute white fish or other seafood for clams.
  • Start by sauteing 2 slices bacon in pan until crisp; use drippings in place of oil and salt; add chopped bacon to chowder; season to taste.


  1. Rarely meet a chowder I don't like... and this sounds great! Tell me, though, exactly what sort of potatoes are you recommending? I know nothing about relative starch content, I'm afraid! Still, mmmm...

  2. We usually use all-purpose potatoes. Sometimes these are labeled Yukon Gold. Boiling potatoes hold together (have less starch). Baking potatoes fall apart (have more starch).