January 20, 2008
Dark Days Challenge Week 2: Fresh Clam Chowder, Sort Of
I saw Ina Garten prepare clam chowder on Barefoot Contessa a few weeks ago, and it suddenly ocurred to me that clam chowder is something I could easily make out of all local ingredients, even in the "dark days" of January. Growing up, I had always been scared of clam chowder, probably because of my parent's fear of bottom feeders, as well as its murky appearance. But now that I love to eat meaty dayboat clams from the Greenmarket, I figured I should give it a try.
My chowder actually ended up tasting more like a sage-spiced potato soup with a few clams in there to taste, because I only used a pound of clams. I also left out flour, which would have thickened up the broth and made it more like traditional New England Clam Chowder.
Interestingly, it was difficult to find a clam chowder recipe prepared from scratch using whole clams. Google mostly led me to recipes calling for canned clams and botled clam juice. I guess if you live in the midwest, then you have no choice but to use canned clams. But shouldn't those of us on the coast always indulge in the fresh taste of clams straight from the sea?
The chowder ended up being part of an impromptu dinner party that also involved making bread; homemade fries that gave Jesse a huge blister burn while baking them; flounder and kale steamed in a balsamic dijon sauce for someone who couldn't eat shellfish; and a chocolate and coconut dessert that will appear in a later post.
I made bread that was meant to be eaten with the chowder, but my dinner guests actually ate most of it before the food was done. Instead of spending all day slaving over bread, I made whole wheat beer bread, which was done in little more than an hour. It seemed to good to be true - the promise of a good loaf of bread without any kneading or rising time - but it came out as a funky-looking but good-tasting moist bread. To me, it wasn't as good quality as real kneaded bread, but Jesse surprisingly claimed he likes beer bread better than kneaded bread. (Maybe he just likes eating his beer as well as drinking it.)
This post is part of the Dark Days Challenge, in which I prepare at least one meal each week comprised of mostly local ingredients. Below is a summary of food mileage for this meal:
Flounder and Clams - Long Island dayboat stand at the Greenmarket, under 115 mi
Onion, garlic, kale, and potatoes - unknown NY farm at Greenmarket, under 300 mi
Sage - dried from unknown farm at the Greenmarket, Goshen, NY, 73 miles
Milk and butter - Ronnybrook Farm, Ancramdale, NY, 115 miles
salt and pepper - not local
For the bread:
Whole wheat flour - King Arthur, Norwich, VT, 266 mi (though the flour is probably coming from much farther away...)
Saratoga lager - Olde Saratoga Brewing Company, Saratoga Springs, NY, 194 mi
Honey - Twin Spruce Apiaries, Climax, NY, 141 mi
baking powder - not local