David Cecelski's Core Sound-Style Clam Chowder
Create a meal for the Carolina Panthers!
Football Foodies is written by The Gurgling Cod, who each week will recommend good eats to go with the game.
Sunday Night Football is now in the Flex part of the schedule, which means that NBC can preempt the scheduled game, and show you the Giants instead. Glory be. That's exactly what happens this week, as the Giants head south for what is actually a legitimate NFC shootout with the Carolina Panthers.
As a respite from those fancy chefs with their fancy city ways, we are going to heat to the Outer Banks with the North Carolina Folklife Center*, and cook up some chowder, Carolina style. With real clams and plenty of (Julius) Peppers, it's just the kind of hearty meal you need after a week of subsisting on hot passed apps as you cheer the Panthers to victory.. Many thanks to David Cecelski for being willing to spill the beans on this chowder.
David Cecelski's Core Sound-Style Clam Chowder with Corn Dumplings
This is a very traditional clam chowder recipe that's much loved in the old fishing villages on the Outer Banks and other parts of the North Carolina coast. Most people here would never dream of putting milk, cream or tomato juice in their clam chowder and, if you can get good, fresh, wild clams like we have in Core Sound, you'll see why.
1. Rend fat from 2-3 slices of salt pork in a big iron or aluminum pot. (just substitute 1/2 cup of hot oil if you want to avoid the pork)
2. Remove meat and add 3-4 cubed white potatoes, 1 large onion, diced, and 1 quart shucked clams, chopped, and their juices, and 3 cups water.
3. Season with salt to taste and lots of black pepper--at least 1 tsp.
4. Simmer over medium heat for 1.5- 2 hours, until clams are tender.
5. Fifteen minutes before you want to serve, raise heat to a rapid boil and add corn dumplings. To make the dumplings, mix 2 cups cornmeal, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 to 1 cup water in a bowl. Add just enough water to hold the mixture together--think about the consistency of mud pies when you were a kid. Shape into small patties or clumps in your hand, maybe 1.5 to 2 inches long. Drop around the edges of the pot while the chowder is finishing up.
The key to making this clam chowder is fresh, wild and very salty clams. Farm pond-raised clams won't do it. You also really need the fresh broth. If you have really fresh, really juicy clams, you hardly have to add any water to the broth at all, so that your chowder is made with nothing but the fresh clams and their juices--it will taste like the essence of the sea.
This is an easy way to preserve the juice for your broth. I take the big, chowder-size clams and freeze them. Then, when I open them (and they'll open easily after they're frozen), the meat and juice will come out of the shell in a frozen clump. The juice won't run off. I mince the icy meat and juice with a big knife while still frozen and put them into the pot. That way you don't lose any juice at all.