Epicurious posted on Facebook that today was National New England Clam Chowder Day. But they were wrong. It was Thursday, January 21. Still, clam chowder is just too good a dish to ignore so I’ll do a late post on one of my favorite meals.
I grew up eating my mother’s home-made clam chowder and I have been making my own for many years. The recipe is in my head. I come from a French Canadian background in which pork and onions are two of the major food groups. With an eye to the health of my father’s heart, however, my mother was always trying to eliminate excess pork from the family table. So she replaced the diced salt pork with butter.
Her own heart was in the right place but butter is also full of cholesterol, so I’m not sure her substitution made much difference. It does make a difference in flavor, though, and I became accustomed to the lighter taste. While I enjoy a good chowder made with salt pork, the flavor seems heavy to me, overpowering the more subtle taste of the clams.
The recipe on @Epicurious calls for bacon and heavy cream—no break for your heart there. The one on @Cooking Light also uses bacon but substitutes half-and-half and 2% milk for the heavy cream. Both call for celery, as well as herbs—including garlic—that will not be found in any chowder that comes out of my kitchen.
Seldom does clam chowder make me laugh but @The Simpsons accomplished that when Freddy Quimby, nephew of Springfield Mayor “Diamond Joe Quimby,” is served some at his birthday party at a fancy restaurant. In his broad Ted Kennedy accent, Freddy instructs a French waiter in the proper pronunciation of the word chowdah. (Well, it's word in New England.) I still laugh when I watch it, especially at the last line.