Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Seafood chowder

I will preface this by saying that I sadly don't have a photo. I had one but no one liked how they looked in it. At any rate, the impetus for this was to use up 10 ears of corn I had made and cut off the cobs. I kept eating it by the handful in the fridge. I also had cooked green beans in the fridge.

I found a recipe on Epicurious that I kind of followed, but only partly. Here is what I did...And for the future I would halve the recipe, unless serving it to a LOT of people, like 10.

Saute some onions and celery in butter in a big soup pot. (one is supposed to use pork salt but I forgot to buy it. I probably used 2 onions, half a package of celery and 1.5 tbs butter.

Add a box of fish stock and cut up 5 or so medium red bliss potatoes (preferably organic and skin on) and simmer until potatoes are about half done - or maybe 15 minutes.

I then added 3 pounds of cod and two plastic pint containers of fresh clams and their water. Here is where it gets a bit dicey in terms of recreating the recipe. I bought the seafood at Stop and Shop, not a fancy fishmonger, but I was on Cape Cod after all.  I wonder if it was extra good because it was local, and if this whole recipe would be horrible if I didn't have such good seafood. I actually don't know. And all this seafood cost $40, which seems like a lot, but it made an enormous amount of soup.

The seafood is simply placed on top. After it starts to steam and break up it can be stirred. Eventually, after another 15 minutes or so, it all breaks up and basically disintegrates, along with about 50% of the potatoes. At this point I added about one and a half cups of half and half with the burner turned off. The result was a thick stew, more than a soup.

A few notes:
I used as much butter as I felt was necessary, which in reality is not much, but seems like a lot in a big hunk. After a lot of practice I can kind of eyeball how much is needed to add flavor without adding too many calories. As for the half and half, I did use a cup and a half, I think - I was just pouring until I liked the look of the consistency. I estimated that at 400 calories, but again that's over 10 or so servings. So all in all it was a low-fat, low-calorie, extremely healthy stew. Full of starch, yes, (corn, beans, potatoes) but very low in calories, low fat, and full of healthy seafood. Traditional chowders start with a roux and have tons of butter or pork fat and some flour. When I tasted it after it was done I thought it was not rich enough, but as it turns out, you could eat a whole bowl, or even two, without feeling overly full. I also didn't find any recipes that called for both fish and clams, but I decided to try it and it was delicious.

I added salt and pepper as I cooked, but not enough and people added more. I don't see this as a problem but done on purpose to allow everyone to adjust the soup to their own tastes. I also used veggies I had in the fridge but frozen would work fine. I meant to add carrots and forgot - that would have been pretty as I had yellow, green and pink flecks already.

Perhaps the best part about this dish was the clean-up. It was a one pot dish, and I even put the whole pot back in the fridge after we ate it - it was still so full! The stove didn't get splattered during the sauteing as the veggies were cooked in the high-walled pot.

I was happy because I took a traditionally dense and fattening food and made it healthy while still retaining a lot of flavor. I don't always succeed at that. I often make things too healthy and not rich enough, or I throw caution to the wind and make things unnecessarily caloric and greasy. So when I get it right I'm quite pleased with myself-and so were all my guests for 3 days!

No comments:

Post a Comment