Sunday, December 4, 2011

Grandpa's Clam Chowder

To say the men in my family like to cook is an understatement. My Dad’s Dad loved cooking so much he wrote a cooking column in the early 70’s. My dad is addicted to the Food Network and the Cooking Channel. My youngest brother and my older brother both enjoy spending a little time in the kitchen. To clarify, my older brother enjoys grilling, breakfast, breakfast on the grill, and home-brewing beer, when he isn’t off gallivanting working - in mostly unfavorable parts of the world. My son loves to cook and even does the dishes. And to be fair, my sister is an amazing cook – when she has time.

I've been craving clam chowder and asked my dad to dig out his recipe for me. He made a photocopy of the recipe, wrote “Grandpa’s Clam Chowder “ across the top, and then gave me step by step instructions for making this really simple dish. He even recommended I come over for cooking lessons. I am pretty competent in the kitchen, but as my Dad thinks his Mabel is a bit ditzy he feels obligated to educate her at every opportunity.

This evening I finally got around to making “Grandpa’s Chowder” after calling Dad to make sure I was reading the recipe right. The photocopy was faint and hard to read. Again the offer of a cooking lesson came up. And again he was giving me step by step instructions which he followed up with, “Don’t do it like Dad says in his column. He never made it that way.” To back track a bit, my aunt gave me a copy of all of my Grandpa’s cooking columns when I was married.  I read the column and they are different but get you to the same place.

Today was the perfect day for a good chowder or soup: a little snow falling, the windows steaming up from the chowder simmering on the stove, and homemade bread stolen from Grumpy’s Restaurant (Dad’s house) yesterday. I modified the amount of potatoes and clams to my own taste and the final result was wonderful.
Dad's Bread

Grandpa’s Clam Chowder – aka: New England Clam Chowder

¼ lb salt pork, cut into ¼ in dice or 4 to 5 slices of bacon; chopped
1 cup finely chopped onion
3 cups cold water
4 cups potatoes cut into ¼ inch dice
2- 8oz cans chopped (or minced) clams (about 2 cups)
2 cups half and half or light cream
1/8 tsp thyme
Fresh ground black pepper
2 tbls soft butter

On high heat, fry the diced pork in 2 quart sauce pan; stirring constantly for about 3 minutes until a thin film of fat covers the pan. Reduce heat. Stir in onion, cook together for five minutes longer. When the pork and onions turn a light golden brown, add 3 cups of water and diced potatoes. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer with pan half covered for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Add clams and their juices, the cream, and thyme. Heat almost to boiling – do not boil. Season with salt and pepper or Old Bay Seasoning. Stir in butter and sprinkle with paprika when serving.


Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

I love cookbooks that tell the story behind the recipe... I read them like novels... great post!

I'm jealous of your "little snow" It's getting to the point where I just might be craving a dusting... it's supposed to be 68 here today!

mCat said...

What a fun story about the men cooking in your family! I love Clam Chowder minus the Clams....I know, I know, that just makes it potato soup! : )