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Best Clam Chowder Recipe is Our Family Heirloom

If it’s thick, taste’s like Snows, looks like an art project or contains anytthing but fresh clams, potatoes, onions, water and milk – it ain’t ours. A New England native reveals the puritanical truth about making clam chowder the way God intended, and throws in a little family history to boot. (Click for history and rec,ipte below)


Digging into other people’s past, I tend to neglect my own. So this year as the holidays approach, I humbly pass on the historic Robinson clam chowder recipe to the misguided citizens of the Seacoast. Except for clams, most of our family food traditions can be traced to any Betty Crocker cookbook. Our Thanksgiving dinner is cut from a Norman Rockwell painting. Christmas looks the same if you swap the turkey for a ham.

When I was a kid we celebrated New Year’s Eve around a large raw cabbage pierced with toothpicks. At the end of each toothpick was a Vienna sausage plucked fresh from the can. My father carved a circular hole in the top of the cabbage, wedged a little tin of Sterno ™ in the hole and lit the fuel on fire. We roasted the cocktail wieners over the crackling fire, ate a few shrimp, watched the ball drop in Times Square and went to bed. For us, that was a big night.

Best New England Clam Chowder is Simple and Milky

I’m not sure where the cabbage tradition came from -- maybe Parade Magazine. It looked a little like Sputnik when the sausages were gone, so maybe it had something to do with the Space Race. I assume the cabbage went into a cole slaw, but like Santa Claus filling stockings, I never saw it happen.

It’s not like we don’t have history. On the paternal side, I’m told, our family walked right off the Mayflower. If that’s true, it explains why the one thing our family does better than anyone is clam chowder. If you think the Pilgrims ate Butterball ™ turkeys, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pies, check their diaries.

At the risk of offending everyone in town, you guys don't know chowder. We know chowder. I was born in Massachusetts, summered on Cape Cod, and it runs in our blood.

As far as I can determine, our earliest written chowder record comes from great-Grampa John Scott's recipe for quahogs (say CO-hogs) that has been adapted here. John Scotta was my father John Brewster Robinson's maternal grandfather. He married Nina who begat Flossie, the grandmother who married Jake Robinson, my father’s father. Em, my father's uncle, married "Pearl" Stearns. Dad's aunt was actually called "Big Pearl" to keep her separate from her daughter "Little Pearl" whom we always knew as Tinker. Tinker married Karl whom we all call Joe. Em built the cottage on Cape Cod where Tinker and Joe now reside. The clams also live at the Cape.


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Wednesday, February 21, 2018 
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