“People think they know what clam chowder is, but how many have dug up a bucket of clams and made their own?” asks food writer John Thorne. Not many, apparently, for if they had, they surely would never eat that gloppy stuff again. Should you want to give it a try, however, here’s an authentic recipe passed down from the late Boston restaurateur Eddie Davis, who for many years operated the old Lobster Pound in Bourne, Mass. The recipe has been updated slightly by his grandsons, Ron and Gary Furst.
Two to three dozen medium-size clams
Bottled clam juice
Three small onions
Three celery stalks
Two large potatoes
Four tablespoons of butter or three strips of crisp bacon plus grease.
Pint of whole milk, half-and-half or evaporated milk
Salt and pepper
Paprika, parsley or bacon bits (optional)
Put the quahogs (medium-size clams) in a pot. Add water or bottled clam juice at least 2 / 3 of the way up the clams. Add one finely chopped onion, three finely chopped stalks of celery, salt and pepper. Cover and boil until all clams have opened.
Remove clams, rinse under cold water. Remove clam meat from shells, remove outer skin from neck of clams and chop roughly. Set chopped clams aside.
Strain broth to remove vegetables and any sand and put it aside.
Rinse pot and lightly saute two large potatoes, peeled and diced, along with two chopped small onions, in a small amount of butter or bacon grease.
Add vegetables to clam broth and simmer for about 15 minutes or until vegetables become slightly tender.
Slowly add whole milk, half-and-half or evaporated milk until desired color is reached. Salt and pepper to taste.
Add chopped clams and continue to simmer for another five to 10 minutes.
Serve chowder in bowls topped with a pad of soft butter and sprinkled with paprika, chopped parsley or crumbled bacon.