Mama’s Hatteras Style Clam Chowder

By Rebecca Burrus, Courtesy of Gift of Mary Burrus Williams


While this Frederick gal (me) is trying out a trial retirement down on Hatteras Island, I’m expanding my cooking repertoire to include more seafood obtained locally at the docks or — Yes! — clams from our backyard.  My wonderful island native next-door neighbor, Mary, gave me a booklet her sister Dixie put together some years ago.  Here is her mother’s recipe for Hatteras Island Clam Chowder.  You will find this to be unlike other clam chowders you have made.  It is quite tasty and simple, a staple of the island, which has an abundance of clams easily accessed.  Try it and let us know what you think!


 ·         2 or three pieces of Salt Pork or Bacon

 ·         3 Cups Water

 ·         2 Cups Clams, fresh, raw, ground or rough-chopped, reserving the juice in them (see note at end regarding using canned clams)

 ·         1 Onion, rough chopped

 ·         Black Pepper, to taste

 ·         4 Potatoes, diced

 ·         ½ teaspoon dried Thyme, or 1-1/2 teaspoon fresh Thyme (thyme is optional)


 ·         Fry Salt Pork or Bacon in a heavy pot.

 ·         When brown, add 3 cups water.

 ·         Add Clams and their Juice.

 ·         Add Onion.

 ·         Add Black Pepper to taste (I use ½ teaspoon). 

 ·         Bring to a boil.

 ·         Add Potatoes, diced.

 ·         Add Thyme (optional).

 ·         Add a little more water, if necessary, but taste broth first in order not to dilute clam flavor.

 ·         Simmer until Potatoes are soft.

 ·         For a thicker chowder, cook longer or add more Potatoes.

*My Note:  I like to add a little Thyme to this recipe.   Although traditionally (and recommended) made with fresh clams, I suppose you can try this recipe with canned chopped clams; remember to use the juice from the can, too.

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Grace currently hails from the shores of North Carolina, a trial retirement location, where she programs and broadcasts a weekly local news show on (all-volunteer) Radio Hatteras. Homesickness overwhelms her many days. A 50-year resident with a heart for Frederick, Grace attended West Frederick Junior and Frederick High Schools. A de facto paralegal from the days when legal secretaries did much research and writing, Grace worked in private law firms. Other employment included IBM, radio, band music, Montgomery County Attorney’s Office, and a long term position with the Montgomery County Council where she retired as a facilities manager. Grace was a minority practical conservative in a liberal charter government. Notwithstanding that environment, Grace is a resourceful, logical, thrifty, innovative, and independent thinking woman--and a great cook! She has been described as “thorough and meticulous.” Having cut her teeth in local government for 28 years, she is well acquainted with the workings of charter government. Grace will share writings of her amusements and observations...and, yes, recipes!