Friday, April 18, 2008

Corn and Crab Chowder!

Tonight's dinner was Corn and Crab Chowder thanks to a recipe I've been wanting to make for three years! I found it in the Heidi Klum issue of Vitals Woman Magazine. It's truly a shame that Vitals never caught on-- it was a great mag and I have been hoarding the two copies I bought on the newsstand since 2005. (I come from a long line of magazine hoarders... my Mom's magazine claim to fame is that she has every issue of Country Living that has ever been published.)

Anyhoo, on to the Chowder.

The Recipe is from the Mermaid's Inn in New York (with some modifications)...

Makes about four servings and takes about 40 minutes.

You'll need:

2 slices of bacon (diced)... I used three slices
1 1/2 tablespoon of butter (I used about 3 tablespoons... more on that below)
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped/diced
1/4 cup celery, diced (* I used a bag of pre-diced celery/onion combo from Wegmans..)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup flour
2 cups fish or shellfish stock
2 cups whole milk (I also added a bit of half and half...)
2 cups fresh corn cut from the cob (I used frozen sweet white baby corn)
2 medium potatoes, diced and parboiled for five minutes in salted water (I used a handful of red potatoes, diced small and one small yukon gold potato, also diced small... no parboiling...)
1 tsp. fresh thyme
3/4 pound jumbo lump crabmeat (I used a half a pound and there was more than enough crab...)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I used more than that and some Tabasco to boot!)

Saute your bacon in a stockpot over medium high heat and cook, stirring until the bacon begins to brown a bit. The add butter, onion, celery and bell pepper. Cook until softened. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly for 10 minutes. Here in the recipe it indicated that I should have had a "resulting roux" "light amber in color"... mine was more like flour coated veggie and bacon parts with a good bit of browning on the pot-bottom. Surely, I guess my "medium-high" heat was a touch too high. In order to remedy this situation I tried adding more butter (hence the change to the ingredient list above) and then I added some cooking sherry in order to attempt to deglaze. This started to work, but not wanting to add too much sherry, I then went with a bit of water until the roux started to come together. Next, you're to add the stock and the milk, up the heat to high and when the liquid simmers, add the corn, potatoes and thyme and then reduce your heat to low. Simmer until the corn and potatoes are tender. The recipe then has you taking the chowder off of the heat and adding the crabmeat and cayenne. I added the crabmeat, cayenne, a few shakes of Tabasco and a tiny bit of lemon juice all while the soup was still on the heat (a bad episode with an anemone has taught me that it is always important to thoroughly cook your fish/shellfish, even if you did buy the "pasteurized" jumbo lump crabmeat at the WF... but I digress).

I finished it off with a bit of fresh ground black pepper and some coarse salt. Served up with oyster crackers and some crusty bread and it was quite a winner. I was really impressed that it actually *looked* like a true chowder! Chowder, kind of like the old adage from the supreme court about pornography is definitely something that you'll know when you see it.

The Husband enjoyed it and suggested that I could use the chowder base for a fire-roasted red pepper and corn chowder. I was intrigued... substitute vegetable stock for the fish stock, add a bit more in the pepper department (perhaps green chilis as well.... Au Bon Pain does have that "Corn and Green Chili Bisque"... and we could have something very interesting!)

Anyhoo, I do hope some of the readers try this recipe, and let me know how it goes!

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