Now that it is finally starting to get warm out, I’m reminded of summers spent sitting on a Newport, Rhode Island wharf having a cup of chowdah (or chowder, if you’re not from New England). Growing up on the shores of Rhode Island, I have had many bowls of clam and seafood chowdah in my life. I don’t consider myself an expert, but I know what doesn’t taste authentic. That red stuff from NY is a no, no for me!
Below is a recipe I have made many times that has been a proven crowd pleaser, even for those who aren’t really into seafood. I add additional seafood beyond clams because I’m not into a lot of chewy clam in my chowdah, its a texture thing.
This recipe makes a large quantity – it’s great if New England is in the Super Bowl and you want to make something that fits the theme. I’ve also made if for Christmas Eve as part of the Feast of the Seven Fishes. My friends and family always love it and it never goes to waste. I believe you can freeze it and reheat later, but I’ve never had enough left over to freeze.
New England Seafood Chowdah
Cooking time: 2 1/2 hours
No. of servings: 12-15
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
- 1 bunch celery thinly sliced
- 4 large onions, sliced very thin
- 12 diced potatoes
- 1 quart light cream or half and half
- 2 large cans (49 ounce each) clam juice (you can also use several small cans to add up to the same amount)
- 2 quarts chopped clams (preferably fresh canned clams are ok)
- 1 can cooked real crabmeat (optional – leave out if making clam chowdah instead of seafood chowdah)
- 1 bag frozen salad shrimp or small cooked shrimp (optional – leave out if making clam chowdah instead of seafood chowda)
Chowdah Making Instructions:
Melt butter on low heat. When butter is melted, add thinly sliced onions and celery and sauté. While the onions and celery are cooking, open the cans of clam juice and put 1 – 1 ½ cups to the side for the roux. When onions and celery are soft but not brown, add diced potatoes, clams, and clam juice (except for the cup for roux below). Cook thoroughly for 60-90 minutes on low heat. When clams are cooked through, slowly add cream and heat.
Thicken to desired consistency with roux made by slowly heating 3 tbs. melted butter, 1 tbs. flour, 1 cup of clam juice.
Add cooked crab and shrimp and heat slowly until desired temperature and flavor have been reached. Add sea salt, pepper, dill, and/or celery salt to taste.
Serve with oyster crackers.