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 3, at the Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes. After the taste-testing and voting was completed, the “New England Style Chipotle Clam Chowder” made by the First State Chefs Association was crowned “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 “Louisiana Red Clam Chowder” won the Delmarva Chefs and Cooks Association mini-challenge, and the “New England Style Chipotle Clam Chowder” was chosen by the First State Chefs Association. Seawatch International, Incorporated, of Milford, Delaware, donated the clams for both the mini-chowder challenge and the Great Seafood Chowder Challenge.
Each association prepared about 12 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 for their favorite.
“This was the seventh Coast Day Chowder Challenge, and visitors came a ‘clammering’ to sample one of our favorite comfort foods,” said Doris Hicks, seafood specialist for the Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service and organizer of the event. “One of the truly rewarding things about this event is that many folks try the chowders, pick up a copy of the recipes, and prepare them at home for their families and friends.”
For the second year in a row, the winning chowder recipe was created by Joseph Joyce, placing his name on the traveling plaque for a second time. Joyce, sous chef at Delaware Park in Wilmington, Delaware, made a zippy white chowder that was the crowd-pleaser of the day. He added sautéed bacon, onions, and celery to make a roux, or sauce base. The roux was whisked into a mixture of clam stock, tender ocean clams, and potatoes. Before serving, he added half-and-half, roasted red pepper, Chipotle pepper, Worcestershire sauce, allspice, and thyme to give his chowder a slight “kick.”
The recipe for the “Louisiana Red Clam Chowder” was created by Douglas Spencer, sous chef at the Center Plate, Ocean City Convention Center, in Ocean City, Maryland. Spencer added tender ocean clams and tomatoes, as well as a sauté of bacon, celery, onion, garlic, and roasted red bell pepper to a mixture of potatoes and water to make an unusually thick, red chowder spiced with Cajun seasoning.
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.
Coast Day 2004 Seafood Chowder Challenge Recipes
2004 Winning Recipe — First State Chefs Association
NEW ENGLAND–STYLE CHIPOTLE CLAM CHOWDER
by Joseph Joyce, Sous Chef, Delaware Park, Wilmington, DE
2 quarts canned clams with juice
1 quart clam or fish stock
8 ounces bacon, diced small
8 ounces celery, diced small
1 pound onion, diced small
7 ounces flour
1 pound potato, diced small
1/2 cup roasted red bell pepper, diced small
4 1/2 cups half-and-half
2 tablespoons chipotle
2 tablespoons thyme
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons all spice
2 tablespoons salt & pepper
1. Drain clams, reserving the liquid. Add the stock to canned liquid so that the total yield of the liquids is three quarts.
2. Render the bacon on low heat to release fat without browning the bacon. Add onions and celery. Sauté till tender.
3. Add flour to make blond roux.
4. Add the three quarts of liquid, potatoes, and clams to the roux, whisking away any lumps.
5. Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes, skimming if necessary.
6. Pour the half-and-half in the soup, and return to a simmer. Add roasted red peppers, and season to taste with remaining ingredients.
Makes approximately 1 1/4 gallons.
2004 Runner-Up — Delmarva Chefs and Cooks Association
LOUSIANA RED CLAM CHOWDER
by Douglas Spencer
Sous Chef, The Center Plate, Ocean City Convention Center, Ocean City, MD
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups diced onion
2 pounds diced, red potato
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 cup diced, roasted red bell pepper
1 can (16 ounces) diced tomatoes with juice
1 can (51 ounces) chopped clams with juice
6 slices bacon, diced
2 cups water
8 ounces dark brown roux
3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
4 ounces butter
4 ounces flour
1. Render bacon till crisp. Add celery, onion, and garlic. Sauté till onion is translucent; then stir in peppers. Remove from heat and hold.
2. To make roux, melt butter, and stir in flour. Continue cooking until dark brown in color.
3. In the chowder pot, add potatoes and water, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the bacon, onion, celery and garlic mixture, clams, tomatoes, and Cajun seasoning. Return to a boil.
4. Once a boil is reached, slowly whisk in roux until desired thickness.
Makes approximately 1 gallon.