The Chowder Bowl

31 01 2008

I decided to make my Super Bowl pick this year based on soup. And since I’m really hoping the Giants win, I chose Manhattan Clam Chowder. My premise was that the Giants’ fate would be the same as my soup. If my chowder is awesome, the Giants win. I will be playing the role of star quarterback Eli Manning. But I’ve never even tasted Manhattan clam chowder, so you can see that the G-MEN were pretty big underdogs. Here’s how the game went:

WEEK OFF: Eli Manning doesn’t like the coaches’ game plan, so he changes it.

My soup cookbook (from the Culinary Institute of America) instructed me to shuck the clams from their shells, reserve the liquids, and cook the clams in the soup. That sounds really hard, so I decided to steam the clams first, keep the stock for the soup, and put the clams in at the very end. But first things first, I had to clean these things. A sandy soup means a happy Monday in Beantown. I saw on allrecipes.com to soak the clams in fresh water for 20 minutes or so and then scrub them down. Later I read somewhere else that you should change the water and repeat the soaking process twice, but it was too late by then. So I soaked them in a big bowl:

breathe!  breathe! one, two, three!

WEEK OFF: The Giants lose some star players to injury.

The book called for four dozen clams. That sounds like a lot of clams (just look at how big those clam shells are) so we decide to use two dozen instead. Yes I said “we.” I’d never make such an important decision by myself, would I? In fact I never considered using four dozen clams. After all, I’m a clam expert.

SUPER BOWL WEEK: The Giants go through a week of successful practices.

While the clams were breathing all the sand out of their systems I diced up some leeks, carrot, celery, and red bell pepper.

GAMETIME! FIRST QUARTER: The Giants’ smallest player scores early.

Two strips of bacon. One would think that such a small amount of volume, when compared to the amount of soup prepared, wouldn’t make much difference, but it would go on to serve the soup well. When the bacon was crisped I put in the diced veg and some kosher salt to sweat.

SECOND QUARTER: The Giants start to miss their injured star players. They thought they had enough men. The Giants’ offense stalls, and Eli’s confidence is shaken. The Patriots take the lead.

goodbye clams, hello chowda!

The clams took about 5 minutes to steam open (at least that’s how long I steamed them before opening the lid), and Karen helped me by taking the meat out of the shells. It turns out that the meat does not take up all the interior volume of the clam. I’ll remember that next time. See those beautifully opened clams up there? All those clams in the pot gave us this much meat:

where’s the beef, I mean the clams?

THIRD QUARTER: The Giants’ defense keeps the game close.

I strained the liquid from steaming the clams through 3 layers of cheesecloth (to get rid of any remaining grit). I put it and three cups of clam juice, along with two canned plum tomatoes (seeded and chopped) into the soup pot with the veg. This is the part of soup making that I know how to do, so I started feeling good again.

FOURTH QUARTER: Eli remembers his running game. The Giants start to mount a comeback.

Round about this time Karen said “What about the potatoes?” I look at the recipe and, sure enough, I had forgotten about the potatoes, so I peel and dice up two russets and toss them in and leave it to simmer for about 20 minutes.

FINAL TWO MINUTES: The Giants’ star players return to the field for one final scoring drive.

The soup complete, I put the clams back in just before serving.

FINAL SCORE: A short-handed Giants team in over their heads scores the winning touchdown as time expires. The margin of victory is the score from the first quarter contributed by their smallest player.

23-17 G-MEN!

When all was said and done, the soup was a success. It’s amazing, we really could taste that little bit of bacon in the soup when it was finished. Yes, it would have been nice to have more clams but it came out very nice. Karen made a nice salad and some of her home made Italian bread and that was dinner. Giants win, Eli Manning is the Souper Bowl MVP.

So there’s my pick, Giants over the Patriots. What about you? Who ya got?

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6 responses

1 02 2008
Daddy Forever

I think the Pats will win, but I also think Britney will run naked on the field in the third quarter.

1 02 2008
Dawn

ANYBODY BUT BRADY.

Cheaters never prosper, except in Foxboro.

That aside, the chowder looks fantastic. Were you able to get all the grit out of it? I’m so glad you made something without beans this time. :-)

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