The weather was blustery, drizzly, and gray. When it was all said and done, it was a New England Chowder kind of day. And that's exactly how the crowd voted in the Great Seafood Chowder Challenge at Coast Day 1998. Held October 4, Coast Day is the open house for the University of Delaware College of Marine Studies and Sea Grant College Program.
The friendly challenge between the First State Chef's Association and the Delmarva Chefs and Cooks Association was the brainchild of Doris Hicks, seafood technology specialist with the Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service. Each chef's association chose a chowder from among those submitted by its members to represent the organization in the event.
"We thought the Chowder Challenge would be a great way to showcase seafood and the talents of the area's chefs, as well as a good way to involve the public at Coast Day, Hicks said. The Chowder Challenge was a winner on all counts.
Visitors to Coast Day were served a 2-ounce portion of each of the chowders and asked to vote for their favorite. When all votes were tallied, the crowd had chosen the cream-based, New England-style clam chowder created by Chef Bob Davis, from Phillips by the Sea Restaurant in Ocean City, Maryland. Davis, who holds the title Chef of the Year from the Delmarva Chefs and Cooks Association, created "Clam Chowder-- Hot and Spicy Delmarva Style." The creamy chowder combines clams, potatoes, bacon, and lots of seasoning. Phillips by the Sea Restaurant plans to carry the chowder on its menu.
The runner up, "DuPont Country Club Chowder," is a Manhattan-style chowder created by Tom Howell, executive chef at the DuPont Country Club in Wilmington, Delaware. Howell also is the recording secretary for the First State Chef's Association. This chowder features clams in a tomato base with leeks, celery, potatoes, and thyme.
"The response to the Chowder Challenge has been overwhelming," says Hicks. "Both associations are enthused about the challenge and are already making plans for next year. Currently under debate is whether we should stick with clams or branch into other seafood chowders, and whether each association should submit both a white and a red-style chowder. Check it out at Coast Day 1999.
"Special thanks go to all of the many people who worked behind the scenes to make this challenge a success," Hicks continued. "Without their help it would not have been possible."
Following are the recipes for the 1998 Coast Day Great Seafood Chowder Challenge.
CLAM CHOWDER HOT AND SPICY DELMARVA STYLE
Delmarva Chefs and Cooks Association
Chef Bob Davis
Phillips by the Sea Restaurant, Ocean City, Maryland
6 oz bacon, diced
1 oz jalapeno peppers, diced
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 oz flour
3 cups clam broth
3 cups water
1 tablespoon clam base (Minors)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon rosemary
2 teaspoons thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
4 oz pimientos, diced
6 oz potatoes, cooked and diced
4 cups canned clams, drained
2 cups heavy cream
Sauté bacon 3/4 cooked. Add celery, onion, and jalapeno peppers and sauté until just soft. Add flour, reduce heat, and cook about 10 minutes. Add clam juice, water, and clam base, stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low again and add all spices, potatoes, pimientos, and clams. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the heavy cream. For larger batches of chowder, additional cooking time will be needed. Serves 21. Preparation time, 1 hour.
DUPONT COUNTRY CLUB CHOWDER
First State Chef's Association
Chef Tom Howell
DuPont Country Club, Wilmington, Delaware
1/2 pound bacon, raw, diced
1 Spanish onion, large, diced
1 bunch leeks, diced (white and pale green only)
3 celery stalks, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
1 oz chipotle paste
1 #5 (51 oz) can chopped clams
1 lb. red skin potatoes, peeled and diced
15 tomatoes, skinned, seeds removed, diced
16 oz tomato juice
2 nori leaves, diced
2 sprigs thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper as needed
Render the diced bacon in a heavy-bottomed pot with a medium heat until slightly golden in color. Do not burn. Add the diced onions, leeks, celery, and garlic, and cook two to three minutes or until translucent. Stir in the chipotle paste and cook for two minutes. Add the chopped clams with the juice, diced potatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato juice, and diced nori leaves.
Bring the chowder to the boil and then immediately reduce to a gentle simmer. Add the sprigs of fresh thyme. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the diced potatoes are tender. Remove the excess grease that comes to the surface and discard. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Yields 1 gallon.