New England Clam Chowder

Last summer I did a poll on Instagram on clam chowders – Manhattan vs. New England. The cream-based New England won by a long shot, at 80%. I’ve had a recipe for the tomato based Manhattan clam chowder here on the blog for a couple of years. But it was clear I needed to get my version of the cream based up here as well.

We’ve been doing our fair share of fishing lately. Alternating between going out on the sea side, and the bay side of the Eastern Shore. We’ve had some great days, including my first citation fish – a 14 pound sheepshead. Still walking on air over that one!

Often our fishing leaves sessions leave us with some leftover bait, in the form of fresh big chowder clams. Shout out to Chip, our clam man, who makes home deliveries!

The kids have also started to dig them up on Sundays when we’re out at Little Beach. Usually they’re smaller and we just toss them on the grill – but sometimes they’re big enough to become a pot of chowder.

At any rate, I finally got around to making it AND taking a photo of it. It’s rich and creamy, filled with chunks of bacon, potatoes, onions, celery, and chopped clams – that lend a lovely brininess. And as with most soups, it’s even better the next day!

If you can’t find fresh clams, no worries. You can easily used canned clams and clam juice – both of which are available at any grocery store.

Years ago Jon and I were enjoying dinner at one of the finer establishments here on the island. The couple sitting behind us were visiting the area – and not yet acquainted with oyster stew when they saw it on the menu. When they asked the waitress what exactly it entailed, she replied in a thick Chincoteague accent with “Honey – it’s oysters. With a little bit of milk in it”…

Jon and I both laughed – because seriously, how could you not know what it was? And also, her reply was so cut and dry – and perfectly summed up oyster stew. I still think about it and chuckle every time I see it on the menu!

Last week the good folks at Cherrystone Aqua Farms were kind enough to send me a box full of oysters and clams. They’re started shipping these Eastern Shore of Virginia delights all over the country recently, so if any of my friends are looking for a taste check them out. I’m picky about my bivalves, and I can’t rave enough about everything that they offer.

Of course we love to enjoy them as is on the half shell, that happened approximately three minutes after the box arrivied. But I wanted to make something I could take a photo of and share with you guys. Not that photos of just oysters aren’t pretty…I love those too, obvi.

But, I’ve been needing to get more oyster recipes up. And, with being stuck at home with nothing to do besides cook – it was the perfect opportunity to get another one under the belt here at Tide & Thyme!

We had rainy weather for most of the weekend, so I figured it was the perfect opportunity for a batch of oyster stew. Ashamed I didn’t have this on the blog yet, as it’s one of the most Eastern Shore-y of all Eastern Shore dishes. It’s simple, quick, comforting and very filling.

Just like everything else, everyone  has their favorite way of preparing it. I like to use heavy cream instead of milk, because why not? I love the combination of the rich cream and the plump briny oysters. I also add some minced celery, which is pretty conventional – and some minced shallot, which isn’t.

Don’t be afraid to make it your own, just don’t go too crazy. You want to let the flavor of the oyster shine in this simple stew!

 

Hey guys! I hope everyone is doing well in light of the struggles we are all currently facing. I know everyone (myself included!) is getting into the kitchen a lot more these days, and cooking from our pantries and with what we have available.

I thought I’d do a roundup of some of my favorite bean recipes here on Tide & Thyme. They’re great to keep in the pantry in either dried form, or canned – or both! They can always be counted upon to provide a hearty meal – whether the recipe is a quick one that takes just a few minutes…or one that’s simmered for hours. Beans are so versatile in the kitchen!

Also be sure to take a peek at the post I did a few years ago for a well stocked pantry. I list all of my favorites to have on hand! Stay safe everyone.

Nancy’s Beer Braised Pinto Beans – Beans, beer, and spices are simmered for a couple of hours to yield a tender and flavorful pot of beans. Instructions for Instant Pot included too! I like using dried beans – you can use an overnight soak or the quick one-hour method (place beans in pot and cover in cold water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn off heat and let beans sit one hour. Then strain, and proceed with recipe. Soaked beans can also be frozen for future quick recipes, instead of using a can!

Chile con Carne – Chili has long been one of my guy’s favorite meals. Serve it with chips and fixings the first night, and leftovers make great nachos or chili dogs!

Bean and Cheese Enchiladas – These enchiladas take just a few minutes to throw together, and after a quick bake in the oven yield a filling meal that everyone will love.

Crockpot Red Beans and Rice – I love this super easy twist on classic Red Beans & Rice. It uses smoked sausage, which lasts in the refrigerator for months (great to have around to add to a quick meal!) – and it cooks in the slow cooker – so you set it and forget it!

Navy Bean Soup – I don’t think it gets more comforting than bean soup. This recipe uses a ham bone, so it’s perfect to make with those leftovers from Easter hams!

Brazilian Black Bean & Pork Stew – this is another great meal that utilizes the slow cooker. Tender juicy chunks of pork and tender black beans are simmered for hours. Then topped off with a fresh, spicy salsa.

Beef Burritos with Poblano Queso – I don’t know about you guys, but I LIVE for queso. Enrobe a burrito with it and I’m completely swooning. This one uses ground beef, black beans, and frozen corn kernals as a base. Then it’s bathed in a homemade poblano queso.

Elly’s Black Beans – this recipe comes from an old friend from by blogging days, back when we were all getting started. I’ve since started adding Lizano seasoning to my black beans, which I’ve added into my repertoire thanks to Pico Taqueria here on Chincoteague. But, without it – they’re still ahhhmazing! Great for black bean tacos, on nachos, in a burrito…the list is endless.

Chipotle Bean Burritos – Yes, another burrito. But this on literally only takes 10 minutes to throw together. And they’re incredibly delicious. One of my favorite older recipes here on the blog!

Black Bean Soup – I love black bean anything, and this soup is no different. I like to top it off with a dollop of sour cream and some fresh pico de gallo when serving.

I don’t use my InstantPot as often as I should. I break it out once a week or two, usually for chicken stock from my leftover bones. I’ve had it for a couple of years now, kind of buying it just to see what all the fuss was about – but being pleasantly surprised by the power it wielded. The saute function has quite a  bit of gumption, and you can get a pretty decent sear on a hunk of meat.

Searing your proteins in the same pan you cook your dish in yields a TON of flavor, that goes right back into whatever it is you’re making. In this case it made for one of the most incredible pan sauces I’ve had in my life. That’s another nice perk too – you can thicken your sauce right in the same pan as well. Who doesn’t love one less dish to wash?

I’d pinned this method for a cheap, lean cut of beef in the Instant Pot a couple of years ago. Scoffing at the idea that a rare roast could be attained in a pressure cooker! It got buried in my pins, and hadn’t given it a thought until I came across a nice sirloin roast marked down at my grocery store last week. For $9 I figured I could take a gamble…

Made it at lunchtime one day, thinking I could just slice it and use it for roast beef sandwiches for lunches. It ended up turning out so good we ate it for dinner, popping it in the oven for a few minutes to reheat. Everyone loved it. And it really couldn’t be any easier or more foolproof.

A quick sear on all sides. A few additions of onions, garlic, and spices. Beef broth. Then cook under pressure for 3 minutes, and let the pressure release naturally for 30 minutes. I then added some red wine to the pan drippings, along with a little cornstarch to thicken. Served it over the thinly sliced beef along with some roasted reds and asparagus. One of the best meals we’ve had in a long time! It was honestly just as good as prime rib, for about one quarter of the price and time involved in preparing it.

I used a 3 pound roast, and it was the perfect hair scant of medium-rare. If you want your roast more well done, or it’s larger – you can continue cooking by recovering and keeping InstantPot on warm for more time. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, get one. They’re cheap and are worth their weight in gold when it comes to worrying about the doneness of things.