Okay, it turns out I’m just as busy now that I’ve defended my project. It’s just that by “busy” I mean I spend more time dressing my cats up as hipsters:
I’ve also been re-discovering a couple of naturally gluten-free foods that I’ve neglected for a long time. In the past 3 or 4 years I’ve expanded my seafood palate to include more than just fried crabcakes. But a few friends and I have recently begun a tradition, Seafood Saturdays, wherein I’ve expanded my ability to cook seafood in myriad gluten-free ways. Because of the taste preferences of one particular friend, these meals often include bacon.
I am currently obsessed with bacon.
I don’t know what I was thinking before. I tolerated bacon, but I never ordered or cooked it myself. Maybe I always equated “bacon” with the soggy, syrup-drenched strips that accompanied hastily thrown together breakfasts when I had friends sleep over as a youngster. But I’ve seen the light. Give me bacon or give me death.
Now, I was always under the impression that chowder had to include some kind of roux, but this recipe (which I have tweaked a little), simply uses the potatoes to thicken it. Genius.
I don’t have great pictures of this wonderous chowder because we devoured it and by the time I thought to we had to combine all of our bowls just to get one decent picture.
What you’ll use:
-5 slices good bacon, finely chopped
-3 tablespoons butter
-1 large onion, finely chopped
-1 stalk celery, finely chopped
-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
-3-4 Yukon Gold (or other high starch potato such as Idaho or Russet) potatoes, peeled and chopped into small dice
-250 ml bottle of clam juice (pretty much the only bottle of clam juice at the store)
-3 cups water
-4 bay leaves (don’t forget to remove these guys before serving)
-1 1/2 lbs mixed seafood, de-boned and cut into small bits. Here we used one tilapia fillet, 1/2 pound of bay scallops (no cutting necessary!) and 1/2 pound of deveined, peeled shrimp, chopped up
-1 cup heavy cream
-pinch of thyme
-generous pinches of salt and pepper to taste during cooking and before serving
What you’ll do:
-Heat a large soup pot, preferably stainless steel (not non-stick) over medium high heat.
-Add the bacon. Stir and fry the bacon until it’s browned, then pour off as much of the accumulated fat as you want.
-Reduce heat to medium and add the butter.
-Add the onion and celery and saute gently for about five minutes until the onion is nice and soft.
-Add one (just one!) clove of the garlic and stir for a few seconds.
Add in the potato, the clam juice, water and bay leaves and bring the mixture to a rapid boil over high heat.
-Keep the heat at medium-high and boil it hard for 10 minutes. This helps to release starch from the potato which helps to thicken the chowder later.
-Reduce heat to medium-low and add in the seafood. Simmer very gently for five to eight minutes.
-Add in the cream, a pinch of dried thyme, avery finely minced clove of garlic and salt and pepper to taste.
-Bring the pot just to a steaming hot (don’t let it boil) temperature over medium-low heat, about ten minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves.
We served with this incredibly satisfying chowder some homemade sangria and a dessert of vanilla ice cream with berry compote (add a tbsp. or two of water and some sugar to some blueberries and strawberries, heat it up and serve). It turns the ice cream into that perfect soupy texture we all love ice cream to have.