Edgar Allan Poe, an author synonymous with American gothic horror writing, and Vincent Price, an American horror actor with a velvet voice and looming stage presence, are a match made in hell. Working with filmmaker Roger Corman, Price starred in a number of Poe pieces adapted for the silver screen, and brought macabre classics such as House of Usher (1960), The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), and The Raven (1963) to life.
Price wasn’t just an actor though; a true Renaissance man, he was an accomplished art collector and museum founder, as well as a fantastic cook and co-author of several cookbooks with his wife Mary Price. A Treasury of Great Recipes (1965) is probably the most well-known, but Mary and Vincent Price’s Come into the Kitchen Cook Book (1969) seemed like a good place to find a recipe worthy of Poe. It is organized by era with an enlightening historic intro to each, beginning in colonial America, spanning Antebellum years and westward expansion, and ending in “modern” recipes that are charmingly very 60s.
Poe was born January 19, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts, so a classic regional recipe seemed like the perfect choice. For this New England Clam Chowder, I started with a combination of Price’s recipes for “Chowder” and “Stewed Cod,” and added potatoes to pad it out and celery to scandalize everyone in my house who claims they don’t like celery (but then gobbles up what I make with it anyway). Instead of the white wine that the recipes call for, I opted for sherry. But not just any sherry – amontillado – for that ominous Poe flourish.
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New England Clam Chowder
1 pound clams, chopped, juice reserved
2 tablespoons butter
2 slices turkey bacon, chopped (if you use pork bacon, which is recommended but my kids don’t eat pork, you can omit butter)
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup dry sherry (preferably amontillado) + 2 tablespoons to finish
3 cups vegetable broth
1 pound potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon thyme, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup heavy cream
juice of half a lemon
chopped parsley, oyster crackers, and hot sauce for garnish
In a pot, heat butter on medium heat and cook bacon until brown and crispy. Add onion, celery, salt and white pepper and cook, stirring, until onion begins turning golden. Lower heat and add flour, and cook, stirring, for several minutes.
Turn heat up to high and add sherry, cooking and stirring until almost dry, then add vegetable broth, potatoes, thyme, bay leaves, and reserved clam juice. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are very tender and able to be easily smashed against the side of the pot with a spoon. Smash a few but leave some for texture.
Stir in the heavy cream, lemon juice, and remaining 2 tablespoons sherry. Serve hot, with chopped parsley, oyster crackers and hot sauce.