Cooking with Jonathan By Jonathan Jolicoeur

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In this weekly culinary column, I will be focusing on one dish – giving the reader a quick history of the dish, the classical preparation of it, and of course, my own spin on the classic.

This week I have chosen to cover chowder – a stew that features either clams or vegetables and typically has a milk or cream base, which is commonly eaten with saltines or oyster crackers. The most common forms of chowder are Manhattan, which substitutes tomatoes for milk or cream, corn chowder which substitutes corn for clams and of course, New England clam chowdah which has diced vegetables and clams. Other variants include fish chowders and potato chowders, which are commonly made with cheeses.

Traditional clam chowder recipe

4 lbs​Cherrystone clams, scrubbed, rinsed
2​Bacon slices, diced
2 tbsp​Unsalted butter
1 cup​Yellow onion, finely chopped
½ cup​Celery, finely chopped
1 tsp​Garlic, chopped
1 cup​Potatoes, peeled, diced
1 cup​Heavy cream
to taste​Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

In a large pot over high heat, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add clams and cover. Cook for roughly 5 minutes, stir and cook for and additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat once the majority of the clams are open. Transfer clams to a bowl large enough to hold them and strain the liquid through a fine strainer. Once clams have cooled, remove them from their shell and chop sparingly. Set aside both the clams and the broth. In a large pot over medium heat, add the bacon and allow the fat to render out. Pour off the majority of the fat and add the butter, onion and celery. Cook the vegetables until they are tender. Add your garlic and cook until fragrant. Add your potatoes and reserved broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for roughly 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Remove from the heat and add your cream and clams. Season with sea salt and pepper and serve.

Jonathan’s clam chowdah

4 lbs​Cherrystone clams, scrubbed, rinsed
4 oz​Pancetta, diced
2 tbsp​Unsalted butter
1 cup​Yellow onion, finely chopped
½ cup​Celery, finely chopped
1 tsp​Garlic, chopped
2​Bay leaves
2 tbsp​All purpose flour
1 cup​Potatoes, peeled, diced
1 cup​Heavy cream
1 tbsp​Tarragon, chopped
2 tbsp​Unsalted butter, clarified
to taste​Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

In a large pot over high heat, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add clams and cover. Cook for roughly 5 minutes, stir and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from the heat once majority of the clams are open. Transfer clams to a bowl large enough to hold them and strain the liquid through a fine strainer. Once the clams have cooled, remove them from their shell and chop sparingly. Set aside both the clams and broth. In a large pot over medium heat, add the pancetta and allow the fat to render out. Add the butter, onion and celery. Cook the vegetables until they are tender. Add your garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the flour and stir for 2 minutes before adding your potatoes, reserved broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for roughly 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Remove from the heat and add your cream, clams and tarragon. Season with sea salt and pepper and serve.

Whether you choose to prepare the classic, my twist or your own interpretation, remember that food is about bringing people together and that the act of cooking is about caring and as long as your heart is in the dish you prepare, the people you are cooking for will appreciate it (and you).

If you have any questions for me or would like to see me cover any particular dish in this column, feel free to write me, care of this publication. From my kitchen to yours, it is my pleasure to give you a peek into the mind of a chef. Thank You

Jonathan Jolicoeur is a chef at A Tavola – an Italian restaurant on Church Street in Winchester – which focuses on “farm to table” style of cooking. Jonathan was born in Somerville, lives in Woburn and has a degree from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.

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