Thursday, March 10, 2016

Rhode Trip with Corning Ware - Rhode Island Clam Chowder

I took a little "road trip" to the East Coast for dinner this evening.....

Not many people seem to know about Rhode Island Style Clam Chowder, aside from those that actually live in Rhode Island.   Maybe it's because of it's unassuming nature.  It's not flashy red and tomato laden like Manhattan Style, it's not loaded with cream and butter like New England Style.  It's sort of like "the clam chowder next door".  Humble and reserved...  Unpretentious and simple...yet unequivocally delicious.

It may be the least ostentatious of the three styles, but if you are a clam lover, then this is the Chowder for you.  No overpowering tomato, no cloying cream and butter, just clear brothy goodness, loaded with bits of clam, bacon and potato; accentuated with caramelized onions.

True, it should be made with Quahogs, but they are not available on the Left Coast, so I simply go with a combination of chopped & whole clams in a can (besides, I need the clam juice)

I think the true secret to the deliciousness of Rhode Island style Clam Chowder, isn't so much the clams, as it is the most over looked ingredient in your kitchen.... . These little babies.

It's time that Celery was given it's due.  Everyone is familiar with the ribs; they are one of the major players in Mirepoix, after all.  Some are familiar with Celery Root (Celeriac) shaved or julienne in salads or as a mash.  Celery Seed is even used is myriad recipes.... But not the leaves... WHY not the leaves?   They often just get tossed in the garbage.  It's time to think of Celery contributions to cooking, just as you would Cilantro.   Cilantro root and stems are used in Thai curries.. The leaves are used to adorn many Mexican dishes and the seeds (Coriander) are a key spice in the kitchen.   Just like Cilantro, Celery has many subtle flavors depending on which part you are using.   Adding Celery leaf at the end of cooking really adds a delightful "fresh" celery flavor to the soup and highlights the clams beautifully.

Rhode Island Style Clam Chowder

3 slices of Bacon, cut into matchsticks
3 TB Unsalted Butter
1 Onion, diced
4 Celery stalks, diced
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
3 TB All Purpose Flour
~2 cups Clam Juice (reserved from the canned clams)
4 cups Seafood Stock (or Fish, or Vegetable)
1/2 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
1/2 lb Red Potatoes, diced
1 1/2 tsp dried Thyme
1 Bay leaf
1 lb Clam meat, drained & chopped (if using canned clams, you will need five 6.5oz cans to achieve the correct "drained" weight)
Celery Leaves, chopped
Kosher Salt
1/4 - 1/2 tsp Freshly ground Black Pepper

Corning Ware 4 quart Dutch Oven (P-34) or P-84 (4 quart Sauce Pot) or A-5 (5 quart Dutch Oven/Sauce Pot)

Heat your P-34-B over medium heat; when hot, add the Bacon and saute until crispy, then remove from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the Butter and allow it to melt and mingle with the Bacon Fat in the stock pot.  

Add the diced Onion and allow it to sweat until it begins to darken in color. (about 15 minutes)  

Once the Onion has begun to caramelize, add the Celery & Garlic, cooking an additional 5 minutes. 

Add 3 TB All Purpose Flour and continue cooking until the mixture begins to smell nutty (about 3-5 minutes)

Drain the canned clams and set them aside, saving the juice (you should have about 2 cups of Clam juice... give or take) then add the Clam Juice....

along with the Seafood/Fish Stock.....

the Potatoes...

and the Thyme, as well as the Bay leaf.

Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low, allowing the chowder to simmer for 15 minutes. 

Remove the pot from the flame, and remove the Bay leaf. (Trust me, you don't want to eat that)

Add the Clam meat and the Bacon, stirring and allowing them to heat through. 

Stir in the chopped Celery leaves. 

Taste and season as necessary with Salt and  Black Pepper.

Now you are ready to serve (with oyster crackers or Saltines, if you like) Mmmmmmmmmm! 

Not THAT is a big bowl of "happy" right there, that is.

Where is your Corning Ware??

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Corning Ware Does Americana - American Goulash (Johnny Marzetti?)

Though my mother received several pieces of Cornflower for her wedding, most of my Corning Ware memories from childhood revolve around her gigantic Spice O' Life 5 quart (A-5-B), the Electromatic Skillet (E-1310) in all White.  Mom used that Spice o' Life dish a LOT.   One of the things she would regularly make in it, was "Goulash"... at least, what I was told was "Goulash".  Thus my confusion as an adult, when I ordered Goulash in a Hungarian restaurant and received a thick & chunky beef stew laden with potatoes and liberally laced with paprika, but totally lacking anything resembling cheese.  Quite delicious, I might add, but NOT at ALL what I was expecting.  Suffice it to say, that though my family continues to refer to this as a "Goulash" (and there are versions that DO contain pasta), it falls far short of it's authentic Hungarian counterpart.  After all, this dish does not even contain paprika?!?!?!

In my research, I have come to the conclusion that this "American Goulash" is sort of related to Johnny Marzetti (of Ohio fame), though not baked in the oven as a casserole.  Thus, it is sort of a cross between the aforementioned Midwestern favorite and a Slumgullion. 

Mom's American "Goulash"  

4 slices of Bacon. diced
1 Onion, diced
1 lb Hamburger (or Ground Bison)
14.5 oz can Diced Tomatoes
8 oz can Tomato Sauce
1 Bell Pepper, chopped
1 lb Medium Shell Pasta - Boiled 
1 cup shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving

Corning Ware 5 quart (A-5-B) or 4 quart (A-84-B/P-84-B)

Place your Corning Ware A-5-B (or A-84/P-84) over medium flame and begin cooking the Bacon.

Once crispy and the fat has been rendered out, remove bacon to a small dish.

Add chopped Onion to the hot bacon fat.

When the Onion begins to become transparent, add the ground Beef. (This is the point where you should begin boiling your Shell pasta - It usually takes about 11 minutes.)

Break beef up while it is cooking.
Once nice and browned, add the bacon back into the pot.

Add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, then bring to a simmer and reduce the flame to low.

 Add Bell Pepper, and continue cooking until peppers are tender, but not mushy (about 5 minutes)

Add cooked & drained Shells and toss until the Shells are well coated.

Remove the pot from the flame and allow to cool for 5 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Add the shredded Cheddar.

Toss, until sauce begins to take on a "creamy" consistency.

Serve sprinkled with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Where is your Corning Ware??