The Great Seafood Chowder Challenge, a friendly competition between two local chefs’ associations, was again a crowd pleaser at the University of Delaware’s Coast Day Festival, held on Sunday, October 5, at UD’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes. After all the taste-testing and voting was completed, the “Chipotle Clam Chowder” made by the First State Chefs Association was named “The People’s Choice.”
Prior to Coast Day, the Delmarva Chefs and Cooks Association and the First State Chefs Association held a mini-chowder challenge among their members to choose the special recipe that would represent them in the contest. The “New England Style Clam Chowder” won the Delmarva Chefs and Cooks Association mini-challenge, and the “Chipotle Clam Chowder” was chosen by the First State Chefs Association. Mid-Atlantic Foods, Incorporated, of Pocomoke City, Maryland, donated the clams for both the mini-chowder challenge and the Great Seafood Chowder Challenge.
Each association prepared about 16 gallons of chowder for Coast Day visitors to taste. When the pots were empty, over 500 people had participated in the challenge. Each person was able to sample a 2-ounce portion of each chowder and vote on their favorite.
“We had great chowder weather for Coast Day, and it was weather that favored the First State Chefs Association,” said Doris Hicks, seafood specialist for the Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service and organizer of the event. “The First State Chefs Association won this year for the first time. They love coming to Coast Day and have made it an annual fund-raiser for their many beneficiaries.”
The winning chowder recipe was created by Joseph Joyce, who is the sous chef at Delaware Park in Wilmington, Delaware. Joyce prepared a roux, or sauce base, from rendered salt pork, celery, and onions and added clam stock, tender ocean clams, and half-and-half. He then added chipotle pepper, as well as allspice and thyme, to give his chowder a distinctive flavor, making it the crowd-pleaser of the day.
The recipe for the “New England Style Clam Chowder” was created by Joe Oertel, who is the executive chef at Grillin’ Joe’s Restaurant and Pub in Ocean City, Maryland, as well as sous chef at Carousel Hotel in Ocean City. Oertel cooked bacon and added potatoes and a mirepoix of celery, carrots, and onions. He then gradually added white wine, roasted red peppers, clams, and thyme to this mixture before stirring in heavy cream and half-and-half to make a tasty and creamy chowder.
The chowder challenge is one of many activities featured at UD’s annual Coast Day festival. Held the first Sunday in October at the Lewes campus by the College of Marine Studies and Sea Grant College Program, the educational festival has received state and national awards for increasing public awareness, appreciation, and understanding of the ocean and marine resources.
2003 Seafood Chowder Challenge Recipes
2003 Winning Recipe — First State Chefs Association
CHIPOTLE CLAM CHOWDER
by Joseph Joyce, Sous Chef, Delaware Park, Wilmington, DE
8 ounces salt pork, coarsely chopped
8 ounces celery, diced small
1 pound onions, diced small
4 ounces flour
2 quarts clam stock
1 can (51 ounces) clams
1 pound potatoes, diced small
40 ounces half-and-half
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Render salt pork. Add celery and onion, and cook until translucent. Add enough flour to make a roux. Add clam stock, clams, potatoes, half-and-half. Add spices to taste. Makes approximately 1 gallon.
2003 Runner-Up — Delmarva Chefs and Cooks Association
NEW ENGLAND STYLE CLAM CHOWDER
by Joe Oertel
Executive Chef, Grillin’ Joe’s Restaurant, Ocean City, MD
Sous Chef, Carousel Hotel, Ocean City, MD
1 pound mirepoix (equal parts celery, carrots, and
onions — diced small)
1 pound russet potatoes, 1/4" diced
1 pound raw bacon, chopped
2 roasted and chopped red peppers
6 ounces white wine
49-ounce can clams with juice (separate the juice
from the clam meat and hold each)
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme
2 quarts heavy cream
1 1/2 quarts half-and-half
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon white pepper
3 ounces butter
4 ounces flour
1. Gather all ingredients and hold in separate bowls or containers.
2. Start with a 2-gallon stockpot or something of equivalent size.
3. Turn the heat on medium high and add bacon. Cook until crisp.
4. Add butter, potatoes, and mirepoix, and cook until soft. Remember to stir so ingredients do not burn.
5. Add the wine, and stir thoroughly.
6. After the alcohol from the wine has cooked out, stir in the roasted red pepper and flour.
7. Stir in the clam juice, and allow to slowly boil.
8. When slow boiling occurs, add thyme, white pepper, and salt.
9. Turn the heat down to a medium flame, and add heavy cream, and stir.
10. Just before soup boils again, add clams and half-and-half.
11. Remember to stir frequently, and do not scrape bottom of pot in case there is scorching.
12. Adjust salt and white pepper to your taste.