Whether you are seaside in the Hamptons or inland at your favorite seafood restaurant, New England Clam Chowder is a delightful dish. Chef Jeff Baruch calls it “the ultimate comfort food” and says it reminds him of summer days growing up on the south shore of Long Island.
“Every town was dotted with little seafood restaurants that always had great, fresh chowder," he said. "You just knew it was going to be good.”
He has appeared on Iron Chef America and Chopped and today is Executive Chef of London Lennie's in Rego Park, Queens (www.londonlennies.com). He is happy to share his “Hot N’ Skinny” recipe with FFT readers who want more taste and less guilt.
FFT also talked with local venues where New England clam chowder is a favorite.
Legal Sea Foods, Garden City
Legal Sea Foods has been serving New England Clam Chowder for more than 50 years and it has been a part of every presidential inauguration menu since 1981. Area Chef Patrick Keefe calls it a quintessential dish “born from fishermen who used clams as bait and towards the end of their trip would cook the clams with water, potatoes, onion and salt pork.”
He added that they use only the finest tender Cape Cod clams and the “perfect” ratio of clams to potatoes. They also serve a gluten-free “lite” chowder with clams and aromatic veggies in a clear broth.
Bigelow’s, Rockville Centre
Customers who love the creamy New England chowder at Bigelow’s have co-owner William Andreolas’s father Spiro to thank. It’s a 40-year-old recipe from his days as head cook aboard deep sea oil tankers. William Andreolas said that his father had a real knack for cream soups and advises not to make a huge vat of it in the morning and then use all day.
“If you leave out any cream soup too long, it will start breaking down and get watery," he said. "You will end up with almost burnt-like taste. Here at Bigelow’s we make a little at a time throughout the day.”
They also sweeten it with a touch of corn.
Riverbay Seafood Bar & Grill, Williston Park
General Manager Michael Amore said their award-winning New England chowder is made from scratch every day. “We use only fresh clams and make our own clam broth.”
They use large clams for chopping because they are more flavorful and Amore advised that home cooks buy only the freshest clams. As to the popularity of their creamy chowder, he said “the thickness is the beauty of it. It’s a meal in itself.”
London Lennie’s “Hot N’ Skinny” Clam Chowder by Chef Jeff Baruch- 130 Calories
- 1 1/2 cup(s) water
- 12 large cherrystone or chowder clams, scrubbed
- 2 slice(s) turkey bacon, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 2 tablespoon(s) all-purpose flour
- 1 large (12-ounce) potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 2 cup(s) reduced-fat (2%) milk
- 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
- 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme
- In 4-quart saucepan, heat water to boiling on high. Add clams; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 10 minutes or until clams open, transferring clams to bowl as they open. Discard any unopened clams
- Into 4-cup liquid measuring cup, strain clam broth through sieve lined with paper towel. Add water to broth to equal 2 1/2 cups total
- Rinse saucepan to remove any grit. In same saucepan, cook bacon on medium until browned. With slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. To bacon fat in pan, add onion, carrot, and celery, and cook 9 to 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally
- Meanwhile, remove clams from shells and coarsely chop
- Stir flour into vegetable mixture; cook 1 minute, stirring. Gradually stir in clam broth. Add potato; heat to boiling. Cover; simmer on low 12 minutes or until potato is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in milk, clams, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, turkey bacon and fresh thyme; heat through (do not boil). Sprinkle with chives to serve