Living & Eating on Long Island's East End 
                    Vintage Cuisine - East End Clam Pie

My name is Monique.
I'm a 2-time Emmy Award winning TV Producer.
Having been in the business for over 15 years I've produced my share of live tv cooking segments, but never had much time to devote to cooking myself.

Last year when I got married, I moved out of New York City to the east end of Long Island, to ...wait for it...The Hamptons.

Now before you roll your eyes, there's more to the Hamptons than mansions and celebrities.

The Hamptons have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, miles of productive farmland, plus a rich clamming history that continues to this day.

When I moved out east and realized I was surrounded, not just by the bounty of the sea, but also local farms and vineyards, I couldn't wait to explore and sample my new environment.

That's what this blog is about.  Cooking, living, exploring and sharing those experiences.

You'll notice that my blog is a little of this and a little of that, kind of like a potluck meal.

The snow is falling and the wind is howling outside. It's a perfect day for comfort food, the kind of satisfying food that sticks to your ribs. It's the perfect day for clam pie.

Just what is clam pie? Believe it or not, this creamy, crispy bivalve creation is not only a delicious, filling and easy to make meal, it's also a long lost East End tradition.

Since moving to Long Island's East End, I've wanted learn more about local, traditional dishes. What did people eat 50 years ago compared with what people ate 100 years ago? Is there such a thing as a classic "East End Dish?" Yes, there is,
or was.

Clam Pie or as it's also called Sea Pie, as well as Oyster Pie was a Sunday dinner staple on the East End for decades and regularly eaten by the populace as late as the 1950's and 1960's.

I was curious to learn how to make clam pie, but couldn't find anyone to show me how, so I went in search of old East End cookbooks for this vintage dish.

What is a Vintage Dish, or Vintage Cuisine? To me, it's a dish or a meal, that while once popular in it's time, is no longer prepared or only rarely prepared by a few holdouts.

A visit to the Southold Free Library's Whitaker Historical Collection gave me the opportunity to peruse a 1904 copy of "The Baptist Cook Book" by the Ladies of the Social Society of the first Baptist Church of Greenport. But old recipe books can be rather stark in their instructions. Here is their recipe for Oyster Pie.

"Line a deep dish with pastry and bake it. Then fill with oyster, seasoned with pepper, salt, butter and cream or milk, cover with pastry and bake 20 minutes. Serve at once."

Not much to it. Sounds like back then everybody either already had their own recipe for clam/oyster pie or didn't want to share it.

According to "Wikipedia", clam pie is considered a "Bonacker" speciality. "Bonacker" refers to a group of families that lives in part of East Hampton. The term comes from Accabonac Harbor in East Hampton. Many Bonac families were some of the town's early settlers, believed to have come from parts of England; possibly Dorchester and Kent in the 17th and 18th centuries.

For hundreds of years, "Bonackers" made their living as baymen, fishermen and farmers. Clams and clamming was at the heart of "Bonacker" cuisine and clam pie was a Sunday tradition.

Southampton Town Trustee Bill Pell, who grew up in Greenport, where his father worked on the water and owned a fish market, fondly remembers eating clam pie as a child.

"It was a special meal then", he says. "My grandmother made it once in a while. The elders would make it or you had it at a church supper. It was only made for a special occasion or eaten for Sunday dinner".

While few residents make clam pie anymore, it is still being made on the East End. Charlie Manwaring says they've been making clam pie ever since he took over the Southold Fish Market (64755 Route 55). Their version is based on his grandparent's recipe and during the fall and winter months they sell as many as 10 to 15 pies a week.

So I decided to improvise and create my own version of clam pie, inspired by previous recipes.

Clam pie has three basic ingredients; clams, potatoes and onions. Along with those, I also added chopped celery, flour, an egg, herbs and the clam juice to keep the pie moist.

As soon as it comes out of the oven I can't wait to try it. I take my first bite; moist, briny tender pieces of clams and potatoes melt in my mouth. The flaky, salty crust perfectly complements the dish, like a clam pot pie or clam chowder quiche.

It's truly unfortunate that so few people make this vintage dish anymore because clam pie really is a perfect representation of the East End. The clams represent the region's historic clamming heritage, while the potatoes and vegetables come from the many local area farms and putting it all together is as easy as pie.

                            EAST END CLAM PIE

15 chowder clams, shucked, then chopped
(save the clam juice)

1 large onion, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1 potato, grated or diced

1 egg beaten

a handful of flour

a handful of oregano

Shuck the clams, then dice them into tiny pieces.
Saute the diced onion, celery and potato in olive oil, then add them to the clams, add flour, egg, salt, pepper to taste, add some or all of the clam juice. Blend til mixture is pourable, it should be thick, not runny, then pour into pie dough crust.

Place the top pie crust on top of the filled pie plate. Shape the upper pie crust, pinching edges to keep mixture inside while baking.

Bake at 375 degrees for one hour. Stick a knife into the pie, when it comes out clean, it's done. Makes one clam pie. Enjoy.

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