New England Favorites: Lobster, Clams and Clam Chowder

A New England Tradition and Some Favorite Recipes

IMG_0686 IMG_0810 IMG_1120Each summer I vacation on the coast of Maine with my family. This has become an annual tradition and this year is no exception. We look forward to the slower pace, the small New England town charm and the unspoiled beaches. But most of all, I look forward to the New England food—clam chowder, fresh lobster and steamers are but a few favorites.

Here in Virginia there is no shortage of crab, but you can get just about any seafood at Wegmans, including lobster and clams so I thought I’d share some New England favorites and recipes for those of you who love New England food like I do.

The interesting thing about clams …

Let me start by clarifying that not all clams are the same. There are hard shell clams and soft shell clams. The hard shell clam comes in different sizes and has different names, depending on the size. The smallest are Little Necks (up to 2 1/2”). You can usually find these at Wegmans. They are good steamed with white wine, olive oil, garlic and a little crushed red pepper. You know they’re done when the shell pops open. They can be served alone or over linguini.

The next is Cherrystones (up to 3”). These are good for Clams Casino, baked with bread crumb topping and bacon (recipe link below).

Here’s Great Clams Casino Recipe

The largest is the Quahog. This is larger than 3” and the meat is a little tougher. This is often used chopped up for clam chowder or for stuffed clams (stuffies).

Now, the soft shell clams. These are called Steamers in New England. If you’ve ever had a New England clam boil, this is the clam. Wegmans carries them sometimes. They are kind of funny looking but these tender morsels are easy to steam and when done they are dipped in melted butter and melt in your mouth! The process is long to describe so see recipe link below.

How to Prepare Steamers

A Good New England  Lobster Roll

A good lobster roll can be found on just about any coastal New England restaurant menu. However, not all lobster rolls are created equal. There are but a few essential requirements:

  • First, it should be served on a grilled (with butter, not margarine) New England-style hot dog roll. The roll should be fresh, not stale or freezer burned.
  • Second, the lobster meat must be fresh. Use fresh shucked lobster meat from a lobster that was just boiled and cooled.
  • Finally, the only thing you need to add is a little bit of mayonnaise (preferably Helmans) or a little bit of butter and some salt and pepper. Some restaurants in Maine serve the mayo and butter on the side so the flavor of the lobster is not lost with pre-mixing. Some places add celery and other spices … not necessary.

Award-Winning Clam Chowder

I am going to share a great New England restaurant clam chowder recipe that was a multiple winner at the Newport, RI and Boston, MA chowder festivals. The secret to an exceptional chowder is to not skimp on the ingredients. You may find fresh, chopped clams at Wegmans but canned clams are fine for this recipe and are very tender.



See this article in the Summer 2016 of Haymarket Homeowner: