Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Clam Chowder Recipe

A reader asked me to share the recipe for the traditional Ocracoke clam chowder I made for the fundraiser this past weekend (see yesterday's post about the fundraiser).

I started with a recipe from the green Ocracoke Cook Book, published by the Women's Society of Christian Service of the United Methodist Church. This is Mrs. Beulah Boyette's "Wahab Village Hotel Clam Chowder":

1 quart chopped clams
1 quart water
4 medium onions
1 pint sliced potatoes
Drippings from 6 strips of bacon (not salt pork)

Put all ingredients in pot and cook slowly for at least four hours. Add water as needed. This chowder should be thick when finished.

Well, I didn't exactly stick to the recipe. I needed to make a much larger batch, so I started with a bunch of clams (from Pamlico Sound...not canned!), but I didn't count them. I also chopped up my clams in a blender, so they were basically pulverized. Other people cut their clams with scissors, so then there are larger chunks of clam in the chowder. I had about 6 quarts of finely chopped clams and their juice.

I used about three quarts of water, about 7 or 8 pounds of peeled and cubed potatoes (I didn't count how many), and 5 or 6 large onions (chopped). I also used two packages of thick cut bacon (many O'cockers use salt pork, but I like bacon better) which I fried up. I broke the bacon into pieces and included all of the drippings (that bacon grease might have been the winning ingredient!).

I lit the burner at 7:30 and carried the chowder out to the Community Center at 10:30. I didn't add any water. I never cooked such a large batch before, but my chowder is never thick.

I didn't add any salt or pepper, either. I used the basic island recipe, then just did what seemed appropriate. I must have done something right since the chowder won first prize. Actually all traditional Ocracoke Island clam chowders are pretty similar...simply delicious!

Our latest monthly Newsletter is the story of the Ocracoke Orgy. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032115.htm.


  1. I just drooled on myself... that sounds REALLY good!!! Congratulations!!!

  2. I am not a fan, but congratulations!

  3. Anonymous1:43 PM

    Was the onion yellow, white or red ? What kind of potato? Red, russett, yukon gold....?? The bacon-- maple cured, hickory smoked......? I think these variables pplay a roll.

    1. Anonymous9:20 AM

      After reading how to build a clam chowder at www.seriouseats,com I know much more than I ever knew about the history of a clam chowder. I think russet potato was mentioned.

    2. Red potatoes, yellow onions, and hickory smoked bacon. On Ocracoke you often just have to use whatever ingredients are available at the local store!

  4. Anonymous10:41 AM

    The local store. Just last month I was visiting Charleston S.C. We happened to visit a small community store about 25 miles or so from the Urban center. I honestly was appalled at the prices. Shocked and wondered how many small communities depend on a independent grocer. Granted, a larger town existed 17 miles away. I think we passed a Bi-Lo there, however, I hope the average citizen is able to shop at a store with bargains. When I was young, a convenience store was the place of last resort for a single item --most patrons bought beer, smokes or those awful hot dogs simmering in the grease. Perhaps, the Name of the store has crept into our lexicon thus blurring the notion that the prices one pays is now for advertising. I do hope the local market on OI is clean and welcoming and friendly. I trust that it is.

    1. The Ocracoke Variety Store is certainly clean, welcoming and friendly!