On Labor Day weekend I fell in love. With Martha’s Vineyard, that is. And an amazing clam chowder from a famous little place called The Black Dog Tavern in Vineyard Haven on the harbor. The Black Dog’s story began in 1971 on the beach in Vineyard Haven when Captain Bob Douglas opened an 88 seat restaurant named for his beloved black dog. The tavern has grown from a small island haunt to a nationally renowned restaurant with stores and merchandise branded in the Black Dog Tavern name. No trip to the Vineyard is complete without a meal at The Black Dog, especially to try their infamous Quahog Chowder that’s been on the menu since 1971!
Quahogs are hard shell clams, different from soft shell clams, otherwise known as “steamers”. This recipe is from The Black Dog Summer on the Vineyard Cookbook that I acquired on my recent trip. It is fairly easy to make, and a little more time consuming if you are using fresh clams but totally worth the effort for that fresh flavor. It’s rich and creamy, has a touch of thyme and paprika and lots of delicious clams, potatoes, celery and onion making it the perfect chowda’ for a Fall afternoon.
Serve with crusty bread, oyster crackers or croutons and a glass of white wine or a locally brewed ale. Now all you need is the gorgeous view of Martha’s Vineyard harbor to make it a true New England experience! (p.s. I’m moving there – someday!) Oh, and stay tuned for the full report and photos of my Boston and Martha’s Vineyard Labor Day weekend trip. More foodie fun to come! Enjoy. ~AG
2 oz salt pork, rind removed (or 8-10 slices of bacon, diced)
2 c diced onion
1 c diced celery
3 c diced potatoes
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground black pepper
4 c shelled quahogs with juice – 6 lbs in shell (or use jarred whole baby clams)
1/2 c salted butter (1 stick)
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 qts. light cream (or 1 qt heavy cream + 1 pint half and half)
Dice the salt pork or bacon and saute in a large pot until translucent. If using bacon, saute over high heat until cooked through, then drain fat except for 2 tbsp. and return to the pot. Add the onions and celery and saute for 5 minutes.
Pour in about 1 1/2 cups of the clam juice and add the potatoes and seasonings. Simmer the mixture until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan. When it is bubbling, add the flour and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. This is called a “roux”.
Roughly chop the quahogs, reserving any liquid (if you use whole baby clams you can skip this step).
When the potatoes are tender, add the quahogs to the large pot and simmer for 2 minutes.
Stir in the roux and continue simmering for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. This is your chowder base.
In a separate saucepan, scald the cream by heating it on high until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan. Do not boil.
Stir in the hot scalded cream into the chowder base, mix together, and remove from the heat.
At The Black Dog, they serve it topped with croutons and a dollop of butter, accompanied by oyster crackers or crusty bread. Garnish with paprika and enjoy!
Serves 8 to 10.
More Clam Chowder Recipes you may enjoy: