Friday evening, I was visiting friends in Gloucester when we decided to go out to dinner. The original choice was the Windward Grille, but since we didn’t have a reservation we would have had to wait over an hour. Decided instead to go up the road a piece and dine at the Blue Marlin Grille on Rt. 133. We all started out with Clam Chowder and I must admit it was delicious. Could actually stand my spoon up, it was so thick with clams and potatoes. Told it won the Chowder contest at the Essex ClamFest. We all had something different, I did Surf and Turf with baked shrimp and tenderloin tips – excellent. Our waitress was great and considering it was graduation night and the restaurant was packed, everything arrived perfectly. Must also state they had excellent cole slaw – just right. You can have a peek at these guys if you have the idea of opening up a new restaurant of this franchise around your locality.
Clams and Essex are synonymous. Nearly 100 years ago at Woodman’s a mile or so down the road, Chubby Woodman in response to a dare, fried a few clams and an instant hit occurred. On July 4, 1916, Chubby and his wife Bessie, presented his Fried Clams to the residents of Essex during the parade. People across New England are always looking for the best Fried Clam. Personally, I don’t like a lot of batter, but others do. Be prepared for long lines.
Chubby and Bessie’s Fried Clams
26 ounces whole belly clams
12 ounces evaporated milk
4 cups corn flour
Lard (Crisco can be used). Do not use olive oil.
- 1. In a 4 quart saucepan, melt 2 3/4 pounds lard or vegetable oil to a depth of 2-inches in the pan. Heat to 350 degrees F. Using two bowls, pour evaporated milk into one, and corn flour into the other. In small batches put the clams in a hand-held strainer, and submerge into the bowl of evaporated milk to coat. Remove the strainer from the bowl and shake off the excess milk. Next dredge the clams until they are well covered with corn flour (you may want to use a clean dry hand-held strainer to shake off the excess flour).
- Carefully place the clams into hot lard or oil. Be careful, because lard will spatter. Cook in small batches, turning to cook both sides, until they are golden brown. Using a slotted scoop remove from oil. Shake gently to remove excess oil. The clams will take approximately 1 1/2 minutes to cook. The color is the most important. They should be a golden brown. Serves 8 (appetizer-sized servings).
For those few who have never been to Woodman’s, the restaurant is located on Main Street (Rt. 133), Essex, MA.
Courtesy of Woodman’s of Essex — Five Generations of Stories, 100 Years of Recipes
Recipes from Taste and Tales of Coastal New England