New England Clam Chowder - Article by Chef Charles Knight
New England Clam Chowder - Article by Chef Charles Knight
New England Clam Chowder - Article by Chef Charles Knight
New England Clam Chowder - Article by Chef Charles Knight

New England Clam Chowder - Article by Chef Charles Knight

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The main ingredients in Clam Chowder are Milk and/or Cream, Butter, Potatoes, Onions, Celery, and Cherry Stone or Quahog clams with salted pork.

Before transportation and refrigeration recipes originated in regions where the primary ingredients were readily available.

Hard clams or quahogs (also referred to as cherrystones and littlenecks, depending on their age/size), are found from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Florida in sand and mud habitats from the intertidal zone to sheltered subtidal hard mud and sand. But where did Clam Chowder originate.

Milk cows came to the Americas with Spanish settlers in the early 1500’s and explorer Hernando de Soto landed the first 13 pigs at Tampa Bay, Florida in 1539. Still no direct connection to New England though.

The potato on the other hand was first grown in North America in 1719, near Londonderry (Derry), NH, (45 miles NNW of Boston) by Scotch-Irish immigrants. From there, the crop spread to Aroostock County Maine.

Food historians believe that New England style of chowder was introduced to the region by French, Nova Scotian, or British settlers and became a common dish in the area in the early 1700’s.

The first published Clam Chowder recipe came from the Boston Evening Post, September 23, 1751, and it was first served in a public restaurant the Union Oyster House in 1836, the nation’s oldest continuously operating restaurant located in Boston.

President John F. Kennedy and his family frequented the Union Oyster House, and, in return, his favorite booth has been dedicated “The Kennedy Booth” in his memory.

So yes! We can assume that this is the original NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER.


  • Salt pork and bacon are both made from pork belly. Salt Pork is not smoked like bacon.
  • 1-pound clams in shell = 4 to 5 ounces meat
  • Combine clam juice with reserved clam liquor!

New England Clam Chowder recipe

PREPARATION: 1 HOUR – Make 8 to 10 servings.

EQUIPMENT: 6 Qt. Stockpot, 2 Qt. Saute skillet, 1 Qt. Saute skillet milk warmer pan.


  • 1-qt Clam Juice
  • 1-lb Russet Potatoes peeled and diced
  • 2-lbs Fresh Clams diced or three 6.5-ounce canned
    • Liquor and Liquid reserved for potatoes.
  • 2-oz. Salt Pork diced
  • 1 onion minced.
  • 2 Stalks of Celery minced.
  • 1 stick unsalted butter.
  • ¼ -cup Flour
  • 2-cups Half & Half (warmed)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste at serving
  • Parsley chopped.
  • Oyster crackers


In the stockpot bring the clam juice and potatoes to a simmer over medium heat 275ᵒF and cook until potatoes are done. About 15 to 20 minutes.

Add clams and cook about 5 to 7 minutes. Turn the burner off and set aside. NOTE: Do not overcook or clams will be tough.

Preheat the skillet over medium heat 275ᵒF add the salt pork (or bacon) and cook until rendered. Add the onions and celery and cook until tender, about 7 to 10 minutes. Do not allow the onions to brown. Stir occasionally.

Add the butter to the skillet, melt and cook slightly. Add flour and stir to combine. If the roux is too loose, add a little more flour. Cook until slightly colored. Stir occasionally.

In the Milk Pan warm the Half & Half over low heat 170ᵒF.

Bring clams, juice, and potatoes back to a simmer over medium heat 275ᵒF. Add the cooked roux. Thicken and bring to a simmer and stir. Add warm half- &-half to desired consistency. Season to taste.

To Serve top with chopped parsley and serve with oyster crackers.

NOTE: I do not add salt or pepper to my recipes while cooking. Add if you will. I like to add a touch of Sauterne Wine to add a bit a acid to the base to kick it up a notch. Try it!