For the Love of Chowder

While visiting Annapolis, MD and just prior to my very first experience "picking crabs," I found a fun cookbook at the tiniest bookshop ever(with a great view of the Annapolis waterfront).

Anya Von Bremzen's "The Greatest Dishes: Around the World in 80 Recipes" is perfect for anyone who wonders what makes a ratatouille a ratatouille vs. a caponata, a relish, a chutney, or anything else.

Every recipe comes with a narrative detailing the author's quest to figure out the dish's "life story." The narratives include history, lore, and a description of the characters Von Bremzen encounters as she searches for authentic recipes for some of the world's favorite dishes.

This is a modified version of her New England Fish Chowder. It's surprisingly easy and light, and the ingredients enhance the sweetness of the fish for great flavor without any funk. If you have a free evening, I urge you to give it a shot.

**Pics complements of JeffBigNerd, who is so graciously coaching me on food photography and its attendant gadgets, and allowed me to use his Nikon D80 (right?) to get the hang of it. It made life sooooo much easier!***

Gratuitous Use of Aperture

New England Fish Chowder

Fish Stock:

6 cups Prepared Fish Stock (I use Kitchen Basics Seafood; made from fish, veggies, and herbs)
1 cup dry white wine
1 leek (white and light green parts) sliced
1 onion, coarse chopped
1 carrot, coarse chopped
1 rib celery, coarse chopped
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbs. unsalted butter


1 cup meaty bacon, diced
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 rib celery, diced
1 large leek (white part only), diced
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried thyme)
3 large yukon gold potatoes, cubed
1 cup milk
1 1/4 cup heavy cream (trust me on this)
2 lbs. skinless haddock (sub. cod, or hake) fillets, cubed
2 cups fresh corn kernels
Salt and black pepper to taste

To make the stock:

Melt the butter, add the vegetables and saute just until fragrant. Add the bay leaf and pepper, stir. Add the wine and prepared stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat until you have approx. 4 1/2 cups stock. Depending on how vigorous your simmer, this could take 20-40 minutes. Strain and set aside.

To make the chowder:

Melt 1 Tbs. butter over medium heat in a large pot, and add the bacon. (Oh hells yeah!) Cook the bacon until it begins to lightly brown--6-7 minutes. Add the remaining butter, onion, celery, and leek. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are soft.
Add the bay leaf and thyme, and reduce the heat to low. Cover, and "sweat" the veggie mixture for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes and stock, and bring to a boil. NOTE: I used potato slices, but this is a case of "do as I say, not as I do"--a quote pulled directly from my father--because I was unhappy with the results. That's not to say that the pics aren't adorable.

Reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are cooked--about 15 minutes. Remove 1/2 of the potatoes and mash them with a fork. Stir the mashed potatoes back into the soup. Add the cream, milk, and corn and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.
Add the fish and cook just until the it begins to flake--approx. 4 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with crusty bread for dipping.

Tips and Tricks:

The chowder's better after it has sat overnight--if you can contain yourself. Just refrigerate, and be careful to reheat over low and stir often so the potatoes don't burn on the bottom of the pot.

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