This is my Dad’s recipe for Manhattan clam chowder. He’s the one who taught me how to cook when I was a ‘lil’ fisherman’. When I was young I would go out and dig up clams out in Moriches Bay. They were rather plentiful back then, and there weren’t any restrictions on eating local clams. Or at least none that I recall, but what did I know, I was just one of those slacker teens.
Well, the clams that I returned with would be steamed and eaten that way, Dad used canned clam in his chowder.
- 2 cans chopped clams
- 2 28oz cans whole tomatoes, in puree
- 3 medium potatoes
- 3 medium carrots
- 2 medium onions
- 3 ribs of celery
- 2 cups water
- Olive oil
- Bay leaf, thyme, garlic powder, salt
Dad would start with sautéing the onion in a little olive oil in a pan. In the soup pot he would put about two cups of water with the celery and carrots and cook them until al dente. Then he would put the onions, diced potatoes, cut up tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme, garlic powder, and salt ‘to taste’. As he says you cook this until the potatoes are done. When they are ‘done’ add the two cans of clams with their liquid. Stir this all together, and turn the heat to simmer and in a minute or two serve it up. Perhaps with a side of freshly gotten clams steamed in their own juice.
The ingredients were pretty straight forward. I think he used local Long Island potatoes. If he was making a big batch, he would split the pot before the potatoes were done. At some point in the cooking, when the potatoes were ‘half-done’ as he said, he would transfer half of the chowder into a separate pot and add one can of clams to each pot. Then the ‘hot pot’ was returned to the low heat on the stove, and the second pot was allowed to cool down.
This second pot, once cooled to room temperature was ladled into plastic containers and put in the freezer. He did this because the potatoes, once fully cooked would turn to mush if you thawed out frozen finished chowder. Ice crystals formed in the frozen potatoes once thawed was the culprit that turned those potatoes mushy. So he figured that if you froze the potatoes in the chowder before they were cooked, they would be too dense for large crystals to form, and so they would not turn to mush when the chowder was thawed out.
But you do have to finish the cooking once you do thaw the chowder out.