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November 3, 2009

Periwinkle's award winning clam chowder recipe

Executive Chef Thomas Rafferty reveals his recipe for the first time ever! For the unprecedented fourth time, Periwinkle's award winning clam chowder won both the People's Choice and the Judges' Choice honors at ClamFest for serving the best-tasting clam chowder on Cape Ann. In all, it has won 12 titles in the past 13 years.

"We are known for our clam chowder," said Tom Guertner, owner of Periwinkle's, in a recent Times story about the awards. "It is constantly our No. 1 seller. It is the same recipe as when we opened, we don't want to mess with success."

Periwinkle's traditional recipe is based on the older, thicker chowders that originated in the days of sail when legend has it that hardtack, or extremely hard and dry crackers, were used as part of the base. This recipe uses heavy cream and Half & Half, no milk, because milk would separate if you brought it to a boil. Also, unlike many chowder recipes, it does not use salt pork or bacon but does use chicken base, which is added with the other seasonings when heating the clams, clam juice and potatoes.

Periwinkle's Restaurant is located at 74 Main Street, Route 133 in Essex.


Makes 21âÑ2 quarts


3 celery ribs, chopped (makes about 11âÑ2 cups)

1 white onion, diced (makes about 11âÑ2 cups)

11âÑ2 cups of unsalted butter (12 tablespoons)

2 medium sized russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1âÑ2" cubes

2 cups fresh chopped sea clams

2 cups of clam juice

1 teaspoon of salt, or to taste

1âÑ2 teaspoon white pepper

1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

1 tablespoon chicken base

1 cup white flour, unbleached

1 qt. heavy cream

1 qt. half & half cream


1. Cut each celery rib lengthwise into five pieces, turn on its side and chop into medium size pieces.

2. Cut ends off the onion and mince.

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