Of Clams and Chowder


Foraging, clamming, cooking, New England food, summer.  All of these things can go into a good pot of Massachusetts clam chowder.  You can buy a great bowl of chowder at a lot of places (my favorite is Ipswich Clambake, also my favorite spot for a lobster roll), but have you ever made your own?

Yes?  No?  Maybe so?

I think it’s time to talk chowder.

Chowder Time (Pattern and Branch)


When I first decided to make my own, I looked online to see if Ipswich Clambake had ever published a recipe, and…no luck.  What I did find was a recipe from Periwinkles in Essex, Massachusetts.  I tried it, and it was love.  This recipe is my ideal New England Clam Chowder:  white, thick, creamy, with chunky potatoes and clams.  Yum.  I’ll reprint it below with my very minimal changes.  I admit to trying to lighten it up very slightly, but only very slightly.


3 celery ribs, chopped (makes about 1 ½ cups)

1 white onion, diced (makes about 1 ½ cups)

1 ½ cups of unsalted butter (12 tablespoons)

2 medium sized russet potatoes, peeled and diced into ½” cubes

2 cups fresh chopped sea clams

2 cups of clam juice

1 teaspoon of salt, or to taste

½ teaspoon white pepper

1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

1 tablespoon chicken base

1 cup white flour, unbleached

1 qt. heavy cream (I removed the heavy cream and increased the half & half below from 1 quart to 2 quarts. This lightens it a little bit without sacrificing taste or texture.)

1 2 qt. half & half cream


1. Cut each celery rib lengthwise into five pieces, then cut pieces cross-wise into medium size pieces.

2. Cut ends off the onion and mince.

3. Add butter, onion and celery to sauté pan and sauté over medium heat until onions and celery are translucent and soft, about six minutes.

4. Peel and dice potatoes into ½ inch pieces.

5. Add clams, clam juice and potatoes and all seasonings (white pepper, chicken base, Worcestershire Sauce, and salt) into large saucepan and heat until potatoes are softened but still whole.

6. Add flour to onions and celery in sauté pan and mix into a roux over medium heat for about three to four minutes.

7. When potatoes are softened add roux mixture to pan with clams and potatoes and mix over medium heat to make the clam base.

8. Add cream and half & half to clam base. Over low heat mix and stir until well blended and near boiling. Be sure to break down all of the base/flour mixture into the liquids.

9. Serve warm.

Recipe courtesy of Executive Chef Thomas Rafferty, Periwinkles Catering and Periwinkles Restaurant of Essex, 2009. – See more at: http://cook123.com/recipes/periwinkles-clam-chowder.html#sthash.36IKOknz.dpuf


Even though I tend to think of chowder as a winter comfort food, I usually do my fair-weather clamming in the summer.  I must not be the only one thinking about clams in the summer because many a town around here hosts a chowder fest in the warmer months.  In a future post, I’ll share a bit about clamming and some resources for you in case you decide to give it a try.  Buon Appetito!



About Lisa Poblenz (patternandbranch)

I love sewing and taking pictures! Pattern and Branch is my sewing blog with periodic photography posts (and occasional other side wanderings). It's a journal of my creative practice that I hope will add to the wider community and serve as a personal record to help me remember the details of my projects (because sometimes I need help with that). Welcome to this space! Join in the conversation!

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