It was one of those rare cool days a few weeks ago (believe me, I am not complaining) that I was lucky enough to go back in to the kitchen of Chef Clark Dexter while he whipped up another one of his specialties “Saco River Boys Seafood Chowder.” Clark and a large group of his friends make a yearly “man’s trip” to the Saco River for a canoe trip (no girls allowed) and Clark is in charge of all things culinary–clearly, he has smart friends for putting him in charge–and we are all fortunate that he is sharing this wonderful recipe with us.
I have had a lot of seafood chowder in my life and much like Gail “The Chowder Lady” Mathews’ clam chowder, it is one of the best chowders I have ever tasted. Rich and decadent and full of lobster, shrimp and whole steamers I was in Heaven. We topped it off my my own recipe of homemade oyster crackers and it was a meal fit for royalty, or a large group of men in canoes, or both.
So, without further delay, here are both recipes–and thank you again Clark for welcoming me back in to your kitchen!
SACO RIVER BOYS SEAFOOD CHOWDER
1 1/2 lb. Small Soft Shell Clams (Steamers) (soak in cold water for ½ hr.)
1 ½ cups water
3/4 lb. 16-20 Shrimp (shelled and cut in half)
3/4 lb Sea Scallops (cut med. To small)
3/4 lb Fresh Lobster Meat (cut med. To small)
½ cup Salt Pork (diced small)
½ Stick of Butter
1 Med. Onion (sliced)
2 Med Potatoes (cubed and cooked until soft then cooled in cold water, drained and set aside)
1 cups of flour
16 Oz. Of Clam Juice
24 Oz. Milk
12Oz. Light Cream
(1) Put salt pork in a pan on med. To low heat and render until salt pork is nice and brown. Strain pork scraps from liquid and set aside pork scraps. Add butter and onions to salt pork liquid and cook until onions are soft. Add flour to this to make your roux (roux is equal parts of fat and flour cooked). Cook this while stirring for about three min. to set the roux.
(2) Put clams in a pan with water and cooked covered until clams open. Remove clams from the liquid and shell and clean. Add 16 oz. Of clam juice to this liquid, add shrimp and scallops and cook until just firm. Remove shrimp and scallops and set aside. Bring this liquid to a boil and add roux, Whip for about two min. this makes your base.
(3) Stir in milk and cream while cooking on low heat. Add potatoes, clams, lobster meat, shrimp and scallops, heat until nice and warm. Chop half of the pork scraps that you had set aside (very small) and add with a little white pepper.
(4) Serve with Laurie Lufkin’s home made oyster crackers. ENJOY
Homemade Oyster Crackers
2 ¼ teaspoons yeast
½ cup lukewarm water
½ teaspoon sugar
1 2/3 cup cake flour
1 ½ cup all purpose flour, plus more for rolling surface
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for sprinkling if desired
¼ cup cold shortening, cut in to cubes
¼ cup cold butter, cut in to cubes
2 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine yeast, water and sugar. Stir to combine and set aside until mixture is frothy and yeast is activated.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine cake flour, all purpose flour and salt. Process for one minute to mix and aerate. Add shortening and butter and pulse until small crumbs form. With processor running, pour yeast mixture through feed tube. Process until a soft dough forms.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead in a little addition flour if dough is sticky. Roll out the dough as thin as possible into a rectangle. Fold in the long sides of the dough to the center and repeat with the ends to form a smaller rectangle. Roll out thin again and repeat this procedure two more times. Roll out one final time to a 9” x 11” rectangle. Brush top of dough very lightly with milk and sprinkle very lightly with additional salt if desired. With a pastry cutter or knife, cut crackers in to ½” – 1” squares as desired. Place crackers 1” apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned. Slide parchment off of baking sheet and allow to cool. Serve with seafood chowder. These can be made days ahead if necessary as they keep well stored at room temperature in an airtight container.