How can a restaurant in the only landlocked New England state claim Manhattan clam chowder as its own when the tomatoes are from Rhode Island and the clams come from the coast? Leave it to migration (and the fact that many Manhattanites have found refuge in the Green Mountain State). When Vermont native Shawn Beede attended Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, he interned in Bar Harbor, Maine, where his boss served a tomato-based chowder. Now he puts his own stamp on the form by adding spicy sausage and bacon, sourced locally from Vermont Smoke & Cure. It’s the perfect antidote to a chilly spring day and a reminder that whatever the form, New Englanders are sticklers when it comes to quality chowder.
In a 5- to 7-quart pot over medium heat, cook the bacon, sausages, and ½ cup of the potatoes until the sausages and bacon are browned. (Use a spoon to break up the sausages as you go.) Add the garlic, onion, celery, carrots, bell pepper, and herbs. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender and the onions translucent, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the bottled clam juice, stirring to scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add the tomatoes in their liquid and the remaining ½ cup of the potatoes. Bring the chowder to a simmer. Add Old Bay and season with salt and pepper. Simmer (don’t boil) until the potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the clam meat with its juices to the chowder just before serving. Serve hot.
The Reservoir Restaurant & Tap Room 1 South Main St., Waterbury, VT 802-244-7827; waterburyreservoir.com