In my latest book, Take Me Home, Josie Wolcott is pretty famous for her seafood “chowdah”. I’m kind of famous for mine too. Here’s a simple version I whipped up for Memorial Day weekend, a tasty reminder of New England with the ingredients I could find in tropical South Florida.
1/2 stick unsalted butter
One cup of diced potatoes
One cup of diced white onion
Several types of seafood: shrimp, lobster, cod, haddock, salmon, clams, mahi mahi, scallops, whatever you like
One cup of corn (fresh or frozen)
3 or 4 pieces of bacon, cooked
4 cups of stock (homemade from lobster or shrimp shells or a carton-I really like Kitchen Basics Seafood Stock)
1 cup half and half or a pint of heavy cream
1) Melt the butter in a stockpot and add the diced onions. I used a Vidalia onion this time but Spanish or any white onion is fine. Saute until slightly soft.
2) Add the potatoes (I used red but any potatoes work) and saute for another five minutes.
3) Add the 4 cups of stock. On this particular night I couldn’t find Kitchen Basics seafood stock at the store so I purchased something new. More Than Gourmet’s Classic Seafood Stock. It came in a 1.5 plastic container and was red. We’ll see how it comes out.
When I prepped the shrimp I kept the shells and added water, simmered for a half hour, strained and added that to the stock too. A trick I learned from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa. The best stock comes from lobster shells but it’s hard to find and expensive to get fresh lobster here in Florida. Most of the stores just carry frozen lobster tails.
4) Simmer the potatoes and onions in the stock until the potatoes are slightly soft.
5) Time to the add the seafood. I make this dish for Christmas Eve and I like to go all out with lobster but as I mentioned lobster’s hard to come by here in the tropics. Tonight I had a pretty weak selection of seafood. Shrimp, a piece of cod which has been on sale lately, and a can of clams. I added the broth from the canned clams to the soup too. The more flavor the better.
This only needs to simmer a few minutes until the seafood is just cooked.
6) Add the corn and the cream. I used two ears of fresh corn this time but I always have a bag of frozen in the freezer. Simmer another minute or two and remove from the heat.
Add the chopped, cooked bacon and serve. I add pepper but no salt. You can add salt if you like.
The chowder had a pink tint from the new addition of More Than Gourmet Stock. A friend stopped by. When we asked him to join us for dinner, he admitted he rarely ate seafood. He removed the shrimp but ate the rest of the chowder and loved it. My husband thought it was delicious for a quick chowdah slapped together on a Friday night in South Florida.
Now Josie Wolcott in Take Me Home would think this was a very weak version of Seafood Chowder but she too sometimes makes accommodations.
“Hey, people, Josie’s famous seafood chowdah’s up. You better come and get it, before it disappears.” Adrienne shouted.
“Does it have the bacon in it?” Seamus asked. “Yes, Dad, it has the bacon,” Josie said. “Oh, good. You didn’t put the corn in, did you?” “No, I left the corn out just for you.”
Adrienne passed by with a platter of buns and individually wrapped American cheese slices. She whispered in Josie’s ear, “Who doesn’t like corn ?” Josie threw her head back, laughing.
Enjoy and Happy Reading!