…wanna see a grown woman cry? …take a staple of her childhood away from her for a decade..add sub-par substitutes that don’t really measure up.. then give that staple back.
Tonight I made Red clam chowder.. the kind I grew up with at Rocky Point.. an amusement park in Warwick Rhode Island I went to every summer as a kid; Where, for 5 bucks, you could have all you can eat Clam Cakes and red Clam chowder at the shore house overlooking the Atlantic. I would leave so full my stomach would hurt but I didn’t care.. the pain was worth it.. it was that good. You always went on the coasters before you eat though.. trust me.
They closed Rocky Point down around 20 or so years ago.. it’s now this sad beaten down shell of an easier time. I still smell the moldy stale smell of the House of Horrors. It wasn’t really scary, just dark with a lot of twists and turns and these really badly made wax or paper mache werewolves and Frankenstiens. The Corkscrew was my favorite though. It was my first ‘grown up’ roller coaster. ..and while my brother was still not quite “this height” to ride it, and my cousin wasn’t quite brave enough, I was the first to get in line for those double loopity loops. I felt so big riding it.. like the oldest 11 year old you’d ever know!
My first time hearing Metallica was on the Enterprise. I thought it was noise.. those crazy long haired 80’s rockers.. they reminded me of my older boy cousins who dressed in black and wore AC/DC shirts all the time.. (Back then I believed the only good music came from boy bands named NKOTB.)
…so as you can see, this chowder carries a lot of weight. Many different restaurants have tried to measure up weren’t quite right.. it doesn’t take me back to all of that. I’ve stood in lines at some restaurants that have the ‘best Chowder in Rhode Island’ …and while it’s good, it’s just not the same.
…I moved to Texas at the age of 12 and that made it even harder to get the good stuff. I remember in college one year my dad over-nighted me some clamcakes and chowdah from their offshoot restaurant after the shore house closed.. it was heaven but ridiculously expensive. And then that offshoot closed and any semblance of Rocky Point was gone forever.
…some of you may have searched google for similar recipes.. I have. That was my first go-to. I tried making one once and decided “never again” …it made a huge batch and called for a GALLON of clam juice. (no that was not a typo) …it literally tasted like drinking sea water. It was horrid. Tonight, in honor of my beloved Red Sox being in the World Series, I decided to make another attempt. I took a recipe I found that called for far less clam juice and then ripped it apart and made it my own. …the result brought me to tears. It was like going back to the shore house. There was no overpowering clam water taste.. it was the right blend of tomato puree, onions, bacon, and potatoes. The potatoes are soft and break apart when they hit your tongue.. mm… I really just need to go back and get some from the fridge! I would too if I wasn’t so full from the 2 bowls I ate earlier that my stomach wasn’t hurting.. But at least now I don’t have to go to the East Coast to get my fix of this delicious childhood memory..
…so here it is.. the heavily modified experiment turned permanent staple in my comfort food arsenal.
Rocky Point Red Clam Chowder
Serves: appx 8-10 depending the bowl size
1 slice bacon
1 – cup diced yellow onion
1 – 8 oz jar clam juice
5-6 cups water
3 – russet potatoes, peeled and cut up
1- 10.75 can Tomato Puree
1 – 10 oz can whole baby clams (Use 2 if you like it extra clammy) (set aside juice for use later)
1/2 tsp – paprika
salt & pepper to taste
Oyster crackers to thicken (optional)
1. In a large stock pot, brown bacon until fat begins to melt on medium heat.. then take out and dice up.
2. Stir in diced onions with bacon and cook until soft, but not brown.
3. Add clam juice and the reserved juice from baby clams
4. Add potatoes, salt, pepper, paprika & tomato puree. Stir until simmering and then allow to simmer until potatoes are soft.
5. Add baby clams last. Allow to simmer for a few minutes but not too long lest the clams become rubbery.
6. Serve with oyster crackers if you choose.. though I never add any myself.
7. Enjoy with your own memories of your childhood.
…next time I’ll be trying a recipe for Clamcakes.. if it’s tasty I’ll post it along with this. 🙂