While up on Swan's Island off of Bass Harbor a few weeks back, I had a chance to clear up some chowdah related problems.
1. All chowdah is not glue
2. Great chowdah does not have to be made with a roux
3. Freshly gathered clams are necessary
4. When travelling in Maine, there is a lot of bad chowdah out there.
Recipe as follows: disclaimer: I taste while I go, so exact salt and pepper amounts are to taste only(!!!!)
Freshly gathered clams, preferably from icy Maine waters. Think 1 pound per person. So I use about 5 pounds of clams with a Quart or two of water and about 1/2 bottle of white wine. Steam the clams in water with a good splash of white wine and 6-7 well chopped shallots. Strain any sand from the stock and set aside. Remove clams from shells. In a soup kettle, put about 2-3 tablespoons of butter, with some well chopped onion and some thick bacon chopped into chunks. SLOWLY cook until bacon is browned and onions are clear, low and slow is best. Add whatever you want as your base,clams, corn, haddock, fish heads, what have you. Ladle the stock over the above, and DO NOT BOIL
Now you have a nice clear stock, taste, season, and cream out if you want. Add fresh chopped herbs from your garden, mixed, whatever you want to use. I prefer 1/2 and 1/2, but this is up to the personal taste of the chowhounds!It is even better the next day.. See, you can make chowdah without a roux! DO NOT BOIL!!!