Margaret Covello · Oct 20, 2019 · 2 min read
Florida Cracker Claw and Clam Chowder is an ultimate comfort food. It’s rich, chock full of crab claw and clam meat, and seasoned with Cajun flair. I created this dish with a twist on traditional Bostonian clam chowder by adding a hint of Southern culture, specifically blue crab claw meat, simple Creole seasoning, and white roux. Brie and brandy are also added to the dish, making this a distinctive delicacy and a hearty stand-alone meal.
But make no mistake! There aren't any crackers in this chowder. The term "Florida Cracker" refers to colonial-era British and American pioneer settlers and cattle ranchers who used to crack their whips in what is now the U.S. state of Florida. According to Wikipedia, "the term 'Florida Cracker' is used informally by some Floridians to indicate that their families have lived in the state for many generations. It is considered a source of pride to be descended from 'frontier people who did not just live but flourished in a time before air conditioning, mosquito repellent, and screens.'"
So, for those of you who are from Florida, the ingredients will make you feel right at home. And for those of you just arriving to Florida, or not yet here, feel free to use your own local ingredients, or follow mine for FINtastic Florida flavor.
Florida Cracker Claw and Clam Chowder
- 16 oz cooked crab claw meat I used blue claw. You can also get crab claw meat in a can.
- 50 pieces middle neck clams look for clams that are fresh and still closed in shell
- 1 Tbsp sea salt for soaking clams
- 1 qt spring water for cooking clams
- 16 oz heavy cream
- 8 oz brie
- 1 stick unsalted butter equivalent to 4 oz or 1/2 cup
- 1/3 Cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 Cup brandy
- 1 tsp bay leaf powder
- 1 tsp thyme leaf
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1 pinch cayenne powder
- 1/2 Cup celery, diced
- 1/2 Cup carrot, diced
- 1 unit small white onion, diced
- 1 unit leek green ends removed, cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 1 unit baking potato peeled and cut into 1 inch squares
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 Cup chopped parsley for garnish optional
- Place clams in large bowl. Cover completely with tap water and add 1 tbsp. sea salt. Mix salt to dissolve and let clams sit on counter for 1 hour to purge.
- After one hour pour water out of bowl and rinse clams with tap water
- Place clams in stock pot. Add 1 qt. spring water and cover pot. Bring to boil on stove top. Once boiling remove from stove. Set aside and let sit for 1-2 minutes covered and allow clams to cool.
- Remove clams from shells and chop coarsely. Set clams aside.
- Clean stock pot. Melt 2 oz. butter in stock pot and sauté celery, carrot, onion, leek, and garlic for 2-3 minutes until they begin to soften.
- Add brandy, clam broth, potatoes, bay leaf powder, thyme leaf, black pepper, smoked paprika, ½ tsp sea salt, pinch of cayenne, and claw meat to stock pot. Simmer for 20 minutes.
- Make roux - In medium size sauté pan, heat 2 oz. butter on medium-low. Add flour and whisk until four mixes completely.
- Remove rind from brie. Discard rind and cut brie into small pieces.
- Add cream, roux, and brie to stock pot. Mix well and simmer for 2-3 minutes until brie dissolves.
- Add clams to stock pot and simmer for 1-2 more minutes and serve immediately with sprigs of parsley.
- Fee free to add a few drops of your favorite hot sauce to give this dish an added kick!