Trouble With Toast

My grandma’s gonna make me famous | January 29, 2009

A few weeks ago, I got a comment on the blog from John Kessler at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, asking me to give him a call.  I was flat-out giddy–after all, John has been a staple in the Atlanta food scene for over a decade, and he’s a culinary school graduate and a doggone good writer to boot.  I was really curious about what he wanted with ME.  I secretly hoped that he was retiring and had hand-picked me to be his replacement.

Well, no such luck–but John informed me that he was writing a feature on local food bloggers (specifically those with a significant home cooking component), and he wanted to include me in the piece.  Squee!  In addition to an interview and a photo shoot, I would also have to submit an original recipe for inclusion in the article.  This gave me a little heartburn, since most of what I do is try out and fiddle with other people’s recipes, but then I realized that my grandma’s famous clam chowder would be the perfect submission.

This recipe (I call it “Long Island” clam chowder) has been in my family for decades, always making an appearance at our very non-traditional Thanksgiving celebration.  The briny flavor of the clams and the saltiness of the pork really remind me of my childhood in Huntington, New York.  It’s a bit time consuming, but it makes a lot of chowder and the flavors keep getting better as they mingle in the fridge.

Note: For any interested parties, the AJC piece should be running next Thursday, February 5.  The recipe in the article will be different from the one below, as the newspaper’s recipe stylist played around with the proportions and did some ingredient substitutions.  The version in this post was literally dictated to me by my 86-year-old granny. 

  • 2-3 dozen large Quahog clams
  • 2-3 large yellow onions, peeled and diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4-5 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 pound salt pork, sliced, de-rinded, and chopped (you can use a thick-cut bacon if you can’t find salt pork)
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Fresh thyme
  • Tabasco sauce
  • 5-6 pounds white potatoes (NOT baking potatoes)
  • 2 28-ounce cans whole, peeled, uncooked, unseasoned tomatoes, drained and chopped

Scrub clams and put in empty 12-quart stock pot.  Fill stock pot with cold water until the clams are just covered.  Cover stock pot and put over high heat; bring to a boil.  When clams have steamed open (probably about 10-15 minutes altogether), turn off heat.  Remove clams and drain.  Strain clam broth into another pot; set aside.  Wash original pot to rid of sediment; put clam broth back in.

Fill another large pot with cold water.  Peel potatoes and add to cold water.  Let sit while you continue with next steps.

Put deep saucepan on medium to medium-high heat.  Put salt pork in saucepan; cook down and break up.  Add to saucepan the onions, celery, and carrots.  Add pepper, thyme, and Tabasco to taste; cover.  Stir frequently.  When onions are soft/translucent (but carrots still have flavor), put mixture in stock pot with clam broth, set to medium heat, and cover.  Add tomatoes to clam/veggie pot; cover and simmer for about 20-25 minutes on medium-low heat.

 Coarsely chop potatoes and add to pot; cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes on medium-low heat.

 Remove clams from shells.  Coarsely chop and add to pot; cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

 * I’ll post a picture this evening, as I totally forgot to upload the file.  Whoops.



  1. Oh, a woman after my own heart. This sounds delicious. As a New England girl I am pretty critical of chowder, but I think if I can trust anyone it is you (and your grandma).

    Comment by Lemmonex — January 29, 2009 @ 2:50 pm

  2. It is delicious! A nice change from the typical New England chowder. And you can definitely trust my grandma–you’d like her, she’s sassy, and she was a waitress for nearly half a century!

    Comment by bettyjoan — January 29, 2009 @ 5:09 pm

  3. I love it! Yum. Congrats on being selected for the interview! You must be doing something right. Keep on keepin’ on.

    Comment by Oxen Cox — January 29, 2009 @ 5:22 pm

  4. OC: Thanks so much!

    Comment by bettyjoan — January 29, 2009 @ 6:29 pm

  5. Congratulations, well deserved recognition, I trust that you will post a link next week, right?

    Comment by restaurantrefugee — January 29, 2009 @ 6:55 pm

  6. RR: Thanks so much, my dear. I will definitely post the link when it is available.

    Comment by bettyjoan — January 29, 2009 @ 7:28 pm

  7. Boop –
    Now you’ve done it… shared our secret chowder with the whole cyber-world!


    Comment by Daddy-O — January 30, 2009 @ 2:38 pm

  8. Dad: So now more people will be able to enjoy the deliciousness! I think that’s a good thing.

    Comment by bettyjoan — January 30, 2009 @ 2:54 pm

  9. Betty,

    You should have added that it comes out better when you drink while chopping and making the chowder….frankly that’s why daddy-o loves to prepare this dish!!

    Comment by Mom — January 31, 2009 @ 6:29 pm

  10. Haha, you’re so right, mom. There is always significant beer/wine involved in cooking the chowder. Frankly, I’m surprised dad hasn’t found a way to get booze INTO the dish. Hmm, there’s an idea…

    Comment by bettyjoan — February 4, 2009 @ 12:37 am

  11. […] through the city and making cheap and delicious food with Miss Lemmonex, and then I came home to be interviewed by the AJC.  In February, I perfected roasted chicken and granola, and Tom Colicchio redeemed himself to […]

    Pingback by 2009 – Full Throttle, Full Circle « Trouble With Toast — December 29, 2009 @ 1:28 pm

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