In Massachusetts, we are blessed with a bounty of local seafood and locally grown produce. In addition to having the benefit of being extra fresh, buying local supports the Commonwealth's economy and helps reduce your carbon footprint. And when it comes to seafood, what could be better than a New England recipe made with fresh ingredients from Massachusetts? From classic clam chowder to oyster stuffing with wild mushrooms, we've selected some recipes worth putting your apron on for. (Oh yeah, you can also buy locally produced wine and beer for some extra cheer!)
Classic New England Clam Chowder
A favorite of tourists and locals, New England Clam Chowder is quintessentially coastal Massachusetts. Legal Seafood's award-winning clam chowder is so popular that they receive international orders for it regularly and it has been served at every Presidential Inauguration since 1981. Make it yourself using George Berkowitz's Legal Seafood Clam Chowder recipe.
Reduced-Fat Clam Chowder
For the calorie conscious, the Food Network Magazine offers Low-Fat Clam Chowder recipe that is high on flavor and low(er) on fat.
Low-Fat, Dairy-Free Clam Chowder
And for those who cannot digest dairy, food.com offers Dairy-Free and Low-Fat version of the New England staple.
Manhattan Clam Chowder
Described by James Beard as a "rather horrendous soup… [that] resembles a vegetable soup that accidentally had some clams dumped into it," this tomato-based version of clam chowder is about as popular as a Yankees hat in Massachusetts. But putting sports rivalries aside, this recipe from Fall River native Emeril Lagasse (who now lives in New Orleans) is far from horrendous. His Manhattan Clam Chowder has made fans out of Patriots, Giants, Jets, and Saints fans.
New England Fish Chowder
According to anecdotal stories, a cauldron of fish chowder was always cooking in the galley of fishing boats. Typically, it was made with the catch of the day, salt pork or bacon, potatoes, and whatever seasonings were available (or fit the cook's mood). Renowned Boston-area chef Jasper White has these encouraging words to say about making fish chowder: "…it is easy to make, uses simple ingredients, and doesn't require you to be fussy or exact. After making it a few times, you will begin to understand the Zen of chowder." Follow your path to Zen with White's New England Fish Chowder recipe.
Dairy-Free Fish Chowder
For a thick and delicious chowder without cream, butter, or any other dairy, try The Wooden Skillet’s Ultimate Dairy-Free Chunky Seafood Chowder.
Legend has it that John F. Kennedy regularly ordered the lobster bisque at Boston's once male-only Locke-Ober and would drink the broth, but leave the lobster. After 137 years of business, Locke-Ober, closed in October of 2012. But the famed recipe for JFK Lobster Stew lives on. (We recommend enjoying both the broth and the lobster!)
No self-respecting New England turkey would want to be stuffed with anything less! Match your oyster's co-stars with your gathering's tastes:
- From epicurious.com: Herbed Oyster Stuffing
- From Saveur.com: Oyster Stuffing (with cloves and Tabasco)
- From theSpruce.com's recipe section: Oyster Dressing for Turkey, and Southern Cornbread and Oyster Dressing
- From Genius.com: Smoked Oyster and Rice Stuffing
As the official state fish—a 4-foot carving of the "Sacred Cod" hangs in the Massachusetts State House—the Atlantic Cod has appeared on many a Massachusetts dining table. Ideally, cod cakes should be made the day before and kept in the refrigerator overnight so that they hold their shape when cooked.
For delicious recipes, Saveur dishes up traditional Cod Cakes, while Ina Garten offers a more unique take with Fish and Lobster Cakes.
Sesame Shrimp and Kale
Try this nutritious original recipe by Nutritionist Kathy Lynch (and if kale isn’t available, you can use spinach instead).
Details on Going Local
The typical U.S. meal comes from five different nations and the ingredients travel an average of 1,300 miles from farm to market. Unfortunately, those off-season salads and fruits leave some big carbon footprints all over our kitchens. (For more information on this topic, see BUYING POWER: Think Globally, Eat Locally on page 59 of the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management's Coastlines magazine (PDF, 9 MB). To help make a difference, buy local produce and seafood—it's fresh, good for the environment, and good for the Massachusetts economy.
- Produce - From Allston to Wilmington, find the ingredients your recipe calls for at local farm stands and markets. For a complete list of Massachusetts-grown produce, dairy farms, wineries, and more—check out the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture's Massgrown website and interactive map. You can also find a year-round calendar full of Culinary and Agricultural Events around the Commonwealth. On Mondays and Wednesdays, a variety of vendors selling locally produced food can be found at Boston Public Market in the Seaport. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, local vendors can be found at Dewey Square and City Hall Plaza. For hours and participating businesses, check the Boston Public Market Association's Seasonal Farmers Markets. For those interested in having a personal piece of the (local) pie, join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. Membership requirements vary (in some cases, members work on the farms). For a complete list of CSAs in Massachusetts, see the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture's CSA Farms page.
- Seafood - If you want your seafood so fresh it practically jumps into your cart, local is definitely the way to go. While you can sometimes find locally caught seafood at the grocery store, if you want to make sure you are getting the freshest of the fresh, find an independently operated seafood store that buys from local fishermen. Check out Local Catch Network’s Seafood Finder to find options for local and regional seafood harvesters, community supported fisheries, farmers markets, dockside pickups, retail outlets, and wholesale sellers.