Pelham House Resort | Dennis Port, MA

Like many New Englanders, I’ve been a chowder essentialist, believing that the best chowders are achieved by coaxing the maximum flavor from a minimum of ingredients. Then I made this herb-scented chowder with chef Dan Coté at the Pelham House Resort, and I was a changed woman. A sprinkling of dill and—stay with me—oregano not only stands up to the briny clam and bacon flavors, but also enhances them. 

As was the case with many places we visited this season, the Pelham House is a family operation. Owner John McCarthy learned the business from his father, Bob, who first bought the hotel in 1997. Today, Pelham is an ever-expanding phenomenon, with two sister properties, a bakery, and a farm, all set against uninterrupted views of Nantucket Sound. If you make it to Dennis Port in March, you can check out the large function room that John has transformed into an off-season roller disco. And while you’re there, be sure to try the chowder (or make it at home).

  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for cooking water
  • 8 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart (four 8-ounce bottles) clam juice
  • 2 cups chopped clam meat
  • 2 cups light cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • Chopped fresh dill, for garnish


Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and add the potatoes. Cook until tender, 10 to 12 minutes, then drain and set aside.

In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring often, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the pot and set aside. Add the butter, onion, celery, dill, salt, and pepper and cook until the onion is translucent, about 6 minutes.

Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes. Add the clam juice 1 cup at a time, whisking after each addition. Add the potatoes, clams, any liquid from the clams, and the cream. Simmer until the clams are firm, the chowder has thickened, and the flavors have combined, 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if you’d like. Just before serving, add two-thirds of the cooked bacon and the oregano. Serve topped with a sprinkle of the reserved bacon and fresh dill. Yields 8 servings.