With all the rain we had the first half of last week, I was really in the mood for something warm and comforting. I still had better than three dozen clams that I needed to use so my mind wandered to chowder. But here in the lowcountry, a New England or Manhattan style chowder just didn’t seem right. One of my favorite lowcountry dishes is the lowcountry boil, or Frogmore Stew, so I thought I’d borrow these flavors for a chowder.
The resulting chowder turned out just as I had hoped, with flavors of the lowcountry in a warm, comforting bowl. The mellow sweetness of the corn, the snap of the smoked sausage, the flavor absorbing potato chunks, and the briny sweetness of the clams standing in for the shrimp coming together beautifully. If I had had some shrimp around, that would have just taken this chowder over the top. Next time.
As with much (okay, most) of my cooking, I didn’t use a recipe and my measurements are very general. But that is the beauty of cooking that allows the cook to make each dish their own. I made enough here for two dinner size portions, so adjust your ingredients accordingly. I used olive oil, but bacon fat would have been delicious. This chowder was very thick, so if you prefer it thinner, just add more milk.
- 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 fat cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 chicken smoked sausage links (or what you like), sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large red potato, diced with skin
- about 1.5 cups whole kernel corn
- Old Savannah (or Old Bay) seafood seasoning, to taste
- milk of choice, I used dairy free almond milk
- littleneck clams (I had 42 left)
In a wide pan, saute the onion and sausage in the olive oil over medium heat until the onion is soft and translucent and the sausage begins to brown. Add the minced garlic and saute until fragrant, another minute or two. Add the diced potato, corn, and enough milk to come up level in the pan with the ingredients. Add a generous amount of seafood seasoning, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or so, or until the potatoes are tender, but not mushy. Taste for seasoning- at this point I added quite a bit more seafood seasoning.Add the clams and replace the cover to steam the clams for 8 to 20 minutes, or just until they open. Remove from the heat and use a spoon to drop the clams from the shells into the chowder, retaining a handful intact for serving. Ladle into two bowls and serve garnished with chopped scallion and lemon wedges.