For the past three days, we have been subsisting on non-beef, pork, or chicken based food and Seafood Chowder. I made a huge batch of the chowder last Wednesday and we have been having it for lunch ever since, in observance of Lent. Tradition dictates that Lent is the time of penitence and sacrifice in all aspects of a Catholic's life. All, including food, and seafood was considered to be the least extravagant of the options. That was true, a very long time ago I suppose, because these days, seafood costs just as much as beef, some even more expensive.
Anyway. At the behest of sister, I made my very first pot of seafood chowder. It took a long time to make for two reasons. First, there are a lot of ingredients and they require a lot of work to prep. For instance-- The clams needed to be soaked in fresh water and given time to cough up sand. The mussels had to be washed well and their whiskers pulled and trimmed. The shrimp had to be peeled and de-veined. Secondly, I made the broth base from scratch which required a good solid hour to simmer. A must, to make really good chowder.
I used Barefoot Contessa's much-raved about recipe for Seafood Chowder (recipe below). As with most of the recipes I've used, I made some tweaks to suit my taste and basically, what available ingredients I have to work with. I did not have monkfish, so I used cream dory. Any white fish will work, I think. I did not have crab meat, so I replaced it with mussels and clams. You get the drift.
1 pound large shrimp (32 to 36 per pound), peeled and deveined (save shells for stock)
1/2 pound scallops
1/2 pound monkfish
1/2 pound fresh lump crabmeat, picked over to remove shells
1/4 pound unsalted butter
1 cup peeled and medium-diced carrots (4 carrots)
1/2 cup medium-diced yellow onion (1 onion)
1 cup medium-diced celery (3 stalks)
1 cup medium-diced small white or red potatoes
1/2 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 recipe Seafood Stock (see recipe)
1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
2 tablespoons minced parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cut the shrimp, scallops, and monkfish into bite-sized pieces and place them in a bowl with the crabmeat.
In a heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter; add the carrots, onions, celery, potatoes, and corn and saute over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are barely cooked, stirring occasionally. Add the flour; reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add the Seafood Stock and bring to a boil. Add the seafood; reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 7 to 10 minutes, until the fish is just cooked. Add the heavy cream, if desired, and the parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
2 tablespoons good olive oil
Shells from 1 pound large shrimp
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup good white wine
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
10 sprigs fresh thyme, including stems
Warm the oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the shrimp shells, onions, carrots, and celery and saute for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Add 1 1/2 quarts of water, the white wine, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour. Strain through a sieve, pressing the solids. You should have approximately 1 quart of stock. You can make up the difference with water or wine if you need to.