As with so many dishes everyone has their favourite version of today’s recipe post, now I have been very, very fortunate to have eaten my fair share of Chowders and my favourite is The New England Chowder, with clams and potatoes and finished with cream. The Manhattan Chowder is a rich tomato based soup or there is Bacon and Corn Chowder with biscuits. The addition of crushed salted biscuit ( a cheese cracker or water biscuit ) is a traditional garnish and is a reference to many early chowders thickened with Ships Biscuits.
As there is no single definitive recipe my version is a purely personal and uses some of my favourite and best produce available to anyone cooking in Jersey alongside a couple of unorthodox ingredients. If you are not so fortunate as myself living with wonderful seafood almost washing up on my doorstep, quality natural smoked haddock, freshly cooked prawns and some plump tasty mussels from a reputable fishmonger will make an excellent chowder. I have used this recipe in several kitchens and can assure you it will be a success, customers phone up to see if it is being served. Many chefs have a signature dish that can be something elaborate or simple, an entree or dessert, a multiple ingredient masterpiece or startlingly simple supper, I am beginning to think this is perhaps mine. That is no bad thing. Enjoy.
Jersey Mussel, Smoked Haddock and Prawn Chowder serves 4 to 6
1 White Onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 large Carrots, peeled and finely diced
2 Leeks, washed and finely diced
2 sticks of Celery, washed and finely diced
2 heads of Fennel, finely diced
1 clove of Garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 pints of quality Fish stock
500 g firm waxy Potatoes, washed, peeled and diced
2 large pieces of natural smoked Haddock, skinned
100 gr / 1 small tin of cooked Sweetcorn Nibs
A good pinch of freshly ground white Pepper
Bouquet garni; Celery stick, Bay leaf, Parsley, Thyme and Tarragon
50 gr unsalted Butter
50 gr Plain Flour
50 ml Vermouth
250 ml pouring Cream
125 gr cooked peeled cocktail Prawns
500 – 750 gr scrubbed Musselsalted Crackers and freshly chopped parsley
Salted Crackersreshly chopped parsley
Freshly chopped parsley
Place all of the vegetables excluding the potatoes into a large heavy bottomed sauce pan. Sauté in the butter, without colouring until soft, add garlic and flour and cook for a further two minutes. Mean while in a separate pan heat the fish stock. Slowly pour into the vegetables, stirring continuously, and bring to the boil. Prepare the haddock by removing the skin and any bones and cutting into a large dice. Add diced smoked haddock, ground pepper, bouquet garni tied with string and chunky diced potatoes to pan and simmer for 20 minutes until potatoes are soft. Stir regularly to prevent the chowder sticking to pan. Finish with cream and juice of one lemon. Remove bouquet garni. Correct seasoning ( the soup is likely to be sufficiently salted because of the smoked haddock ). In a little water steam the mussels for two to three minutes until open, remove and cool. Strain out the cooking liquor and add to chowder. You can shell the mussels in you prefer them that way.
To serve reheat with cocktail prawns and mussels, cooking for 3 to 4 minutes to totally reheat the seafood, stirring to prevent the chowder sticking to the pan. Ladle carefully into a bowl and top with broken salted crackers and chopped parsley.