What do I serve with NE Clam Chowder?
September 15, 2011 9:47 AM   Subscribe

What do I serve with New England clam chowder?

I am not a great cook, but I'm ambitious and enthusiastic. I am planning to cook up a pot of New England clam chowder from this recipe, and I need some ideas for a creative and tasty accompaniment or side dish. Several of the guests are gluten-free (I plan to eliminate or sub the flour in the chowder recipe), so I am going to need something other than bread and butter to serve on the side. We are also hosting two guests who can't eat anything high in vitamin k, so salads or steamed greens are out as well. Are there any traditional accompaniments to chowder that I am not aware of? I am also not very educated about what flavors go with creamy soups, and want whatever I serve on the side to complement nicely. Cost is not really an object. Thank you in advance for any suggestions!
posted by lakersfan1222 to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You could look at the other things commonly served as part of a clam bake/boil:

baking potatoes,
spicy sausage such as linguica, chorizo, andouille or kielbasa, cut into 4-inch lengths
corn on the cob

I think corn on the cob would be particularly good.
posted by Jahaza at 9:51 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

We've always served it with either corn on the cob and/or a cornbread or corn pudding. Traditional, delicious, no wheat flour and I belive corn is low on K/niacin. With the potato in the chowder it can be a little starch heavy, but hey, isn't that what an all-American meal should be?
posted by HonoriaGlossop at 9:55 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

We just made some chowder with kale chips the other day, but unfortunately, the high vitamin K disallows those.

But on the same tip of hearty, gluten-free, delicious, and good accompiment to creaminess: what about sweet potato fries?
posted by Greg Nog at 10:10 AM on September 15, 2011

FLOUR?!? you use flour in clam chowder? Heavenly days, what are you, some kinda southerner --- or worse: a (gasp) New Yorker?!? Excuse me, I've got to sit down for a moment, my poor raised-a-Connecticut Yankee heart is wounded..... the only true thickening agents in proper clam chowder are the crumbled 'common' crackers (aka pilot biscuit) and potatoes in there. (I can give you my recipe if you want it, it's easy to make.)

ANYhoo: the traditional sides are nothing more than either a couple fistfulls of common crackers or Boston Brown Bread (I could give you that recipe too, but yeah, that one has flour.) I'd just go with a simple tossed salad with a basic oil & vinegar dressing. As for dessert: an old New England dessert is baked apples: core one baking apple per person (just cut the core out all the way through, top to bottom, like a tunnel: do not peel or cut up the apple). Stuff the hollow core with raisins, top with a tablespoon or so of brown sugar plus a tablespoon or so of butter. Put the apples upright in a baking dish with about a quarter inch of water, and bake for one hour at 350 degrees. Serve hot, with either cream to pour over them or a good-quality vanilla ice cream.
posted by easily confused at 10:20 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

*pulls up chair and sits down*

Hi. Born in New England, went fishing in Buzzards' Bay with my grandpa a lot, in the town that sported a a restaurant which won an award for "Best Clam Chowder In New England" in 1981. All of which is to say: Opinions, I has them.

* I'm going more for "traditionally New England" than I am "pairing flavors." New England cuisine draws from a lot of different origins, but the strongest one is England (no duh, right?), and the word I'd often use to describe it is "straightforward." Fresh, basic, simple, rustic. Flavorwise, I'd lean towards either something without cream in it as well (the chowder will be plenty creamy), or serving a smaller portion of the chowder.

* As for eliminating the flour -- many New Englanders already do, and think the idea of putting flour in is kind of weird anyway; the flour is just there to thicken it, and there are plenty of other ways to deal with thickening the chowder (one of which is, just not doing that). So I'd just ignore the flour rather than trying to find a gluten-free accompaniment. Sadly, the very most traditional "accompaniment" to clam chowder is oyster crackers, and I'm as yet unaware of a gluten-free version of that. If you can find one, though, snap those babies up.

* A basic vegetable side dish would be lovely. Corn on the cob has been mentioned; glazed carrots would also work, or something involving winter squash -- roast acorn squash halves stuffed with chopped-up apples and cranberries and pecans, glazed with a drizzle of maple syrup, would be LOVELY.

* Red flannel hash would make for a VERY hearty meal with the chowder, but it's very "traditional New England." It's just corned beef hash, with beets added.

* Beets, in general, isn't a bad idea -- beets are big for some reason; pickled beets are a traditional side dish to "New England Boiled Dinner" (which is just "corned beef or pork shoulder simmered all day with some vegetables" -- Red Flannel Hash was invented to use up leftovers from a boiled dinner, as well as the leftover beets, in one fell swoop). A simple roasted-beet type of side dish would be nice.

* It sounds like you're making the chowder the "main dish" here (which, hell, I've done too), but if you're not, don't be afraid to put yet another fish dish alongside. Me, I'm partial to bluefish filets, broiled for a couple minutes and drizzled with a little lemon and some capers. Bluefish can be an acquired taste (some people think it tastes too strongly "fishy"), but the best way to deal with that is to make sure it is as fresh as humanly possible; if you are in an area where you can walk up to a dock the morning of your dinner and can see the guy actually pulling the fish out of the water right there before he filets it for you, that's the ideal.

* Seconding baked apples as a dessert, or some kind of fruit crisp (using oatmeal, brown sugar and melted butter as the topping; there are a MILLION recipes online and you can swap in or out whatever fruit you want).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:21 AM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]

In addition to the corn and cornbread suggestions above, I'd do some kind of salad to lighten it up a little, maybe something simple like a tomato and cucumber with vinaigrette to get around the vitamin K restrictions (on preview, what easily confused said!).
posted by ldthomps at 10:22 AM on September 15, 2011

Bob's Red Mill makes a pretty great gluten-free cornbread mix.
posted by Andrhia at 10:25 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

One last note (which is motivated by a bit of self-interest):

* Work cranberries in there in some fashion, even if it's just serving cranberry juice. They ain't just for Thanksgiving, they go well with a lot of different things, and they say "New England-y" to a lot of people. If you're going with a fruit crisp, and using apples, try throwing a handful of cranberries in with the apples.

(My family is a supplier for Ocean Spray and I am familially obligated to talk up cranberries. I thank you for your indulgence.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:25 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Try johnny-cakes - cornmeal pancakes. They're crisp =and= fluffy, and traditional Rhode Island cuisine. Make them small and thin, and they're good for dippin.' Also, the glazed squash idea above sounds fantastic.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:50 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Empress: maybe do something wild & crazy, like stuff those baked apples with a combo of raisins and dried cranberries?
posted by easily confused at 10:55 AM on September 15, 2011

maybe do something wild & crazy, like stuff those baked apples with a combo of raisins and dried cranberries?

Not as crazy as you'd think.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:07 AM on September 15, 2011

Hey, don't put the flour thing off on Southerners easily confused! I would consider that a cheat, and I've lived here my whole life. It's not like you're making gumbo.
As for a side, what about spoonbread? Yes, it's another Southern dish, but it's corn and more corn, and should fit your requirements. Here's one recipe from my favorite mill.
posted by Gilbert at 11:11 AM on September 15, 2011

Wow, Empress, those make the simple baked apples of my childhood pretty fancy!

Just for the heck of it, here's my clam chowder recipe; I know it looks pretty weird just after the crackers are added, but keep going, trust me, this is how the old swamp Yankee (her own description!) who taught me made it, with the expection of using canned not fresh clams:

4-15 oz. cans minced clams
2 cups diced pork
1 tablespoon butter
3 cups sliced onions
1 cup crumbled 'common' crackers or pilot biscuit
3 cups diced potatoes
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups cream
Drain clams, reserving 4 cups liquid. Saute pork in butter until the pork begins to brown, stir in onions, cover and cook 8-10 minutes until onions are tender & translucent. Blend in crumbled crackers, reserved 4 cups clam juice, potatoes and bay leaf. Simmer loosely covered 20-30 minutes. Stir in clams, milk and cream. Bring to just below simmer: do not boil, boiling toughens clams. Cool uncovered, then refridgerate covered overnight for best flavor.
posted by easily confused at 11:19 AM on September 15, 2011

'expection' = exception
posted by easily confused at 11:22 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Johnny cakes is often the thing in Southern MA where I've been to chowder places. Also root-type vegetables [squash, beets, carrots, turnips] with some sort of slightly sweet molasses or maple based glaze. Personally I love the idea of stuffed acorn squash, especially this time of year and you can make sure that the stuffings are either relevant to your guests, or make everyone their own that works for their dietary restrictions. Here is the not-quite-clam-sort-of-corn chowder recipe that my dad loved, served at the local boathouse, and yes there's flour. It's pretty much a meal in and of itself.


1 stick unsalted butter
5 stalks celery - fine chop
1 medium onion - fine chop
2 cloves fresh garlic - minced
saute these in the butter

Add 1/4 lb ground chourizo until cooked.
Add 1/2 cup flour to the above to make a roux - cook about 5 min.
Add 2 cups clam juice
Add 2 cups chicken stock

2 Bay leaves
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 tsp red pepper
1/2 tsp white pepper

Simmer - then add 2 cups light cream to adjust the thickness.
Add 2 - 3 cups chopped cooked frozed shrimp
Add 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
Add 1 can of corn/drained

Adjust seasonings with salt and white/red pepper
Remove the bay leaf before serving
posted by jessamyn at 11:42 AM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]

easily confused: core one baking apple per person

What kinds of apples are "baking apples"? I want to try this.
posted by madcaptenor at 11:56 AM on September 15, 2011

What kinds of apples are "baking apples"? I want to try this.

here's a good "which apple for what purpose" chart.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:05 PM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]

oh heck, another correction: in that chowder recipe, that should be SALT pork.....
posted by easily confused at 12:48 PM on September 15, 2011

I cannot eat foods high in vitamin K due to taking an anticoagulant. I was told that most dark leafy vegetables are often high in vitamin K, but iceberg lettuce is not very high at all. So if you really wanted to make a salad, you probably could.
posted by halseyaa at 12:56 PM on September 15, 2011

The Bread Bowl is a nice touch. A lightly toasted roll or peasant loaf is a fine vessel.

Another vote for johnnycakes. I visited MA relatives for a weekend and was served pancakes for three different meals.
posted by mearls at 4:30 PM on September 15, 2011

Clam cakes; here's one.

My grandmother (Quebec Heritgage, MA born) fried them in hot fat. I don't recall that we had anything else but chowder and clam cakes.
posted by andreap at 3:25 PM on September 16, 2011

A pint of Guinness/English ale is what I always had with chowder for lunch when I worked in Boston. And crackers. There are no sides to chowder — or any soup for that matter. I think what you're really looking for is the next course.
posted by Dick Paris at 3:47 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

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