The annual Essex Clamfest was held this past Saturday, October 25th. The weather was perfect for an October afternoon, albeit a little bit windy.
The highlight of the day was the Clam Chowder Tasting Festival. When we arrived, the line to enter into the tennis courts in order to sample the different chowders encirled the playground. It took close to 20 minutes just waiting in line!
Sorry, there will be no pictures of all the folks slurping down the samples of clam chowder. Unfortunately, the batteries in my camera ran out after only one picture.
This year, the competitors all returned to the "traditional" recipes for clam chowder, unlike some of the past year's competitions where many went the eclectic route. (I should say "traditional" for New England Clam Chowder, naturally!) The major difference between the chowders this year was in the "thin, milky" broth vs. the "thick, creamy" broth.
My choice came down to two in the "thick, creamy" camp. It was a toss-up between JR's Route 22 and Periwinkles. It was a difficult decision, but I voted for JR's Route 22 mainly because Periwinkles has won the competition 7 times in the past.
The picture below is of the T.O.H.P Burnham Library which overlooks Memorial Field in Essex where the Clamfest is held each year. The building is also used for Essex's town offices.
Here's one recipe for Clam Chowder. This one falls into the "thin, milky" broth variety.
Fish House Recipes, 1940s
New England Clam Chowder Recipe
Clean and pick over one quart of fresh opened clams, using one cup cold water, drain, reserve liquor, heat to boiling point and strain. Chop the hard part of clams very fine; cut 1-1/2 inch cube of fat salt pork in small pieces and fry; add one sliced onion to this, fry five minutes and strain into stew pan.
Parboil four cups of potatoes cut in cubes in boiling water for five minutes. Drain and put layer in bottom of stew pan, add chopped clams, sprinkle with salt, pepper and generously with flour. Add remaining potatoes, again sprinkle with salt, pepper and flour. Add 2-1/2 cups boiling water.
Cook ten minutes; add four cups of scalded milk, soft part of clams and three tablespoons butter. Boil three minutes and add eight Boston crackers (split and soaked in enough cold milk to moisten). Reheat clam water to boiling point and thicken with one tablespoon butter and flour cooked together; add to chowder just before serving. The clam water has a tendency to curdle the milk, hence this must be added last. This will serve about eight.