When I order seafood chowder, I have certain expectations. I expect it to be creamy, chunky and for a few key ingredients to be in the bowl like: potatoes and fish especially if it’s inferred in the title. Each time I dip my spoon into the bowl I like to see and taste a little bit of every ingredient including, that’s right, fish. Not just all potatoes or carrots, or more potatoes. Fish is key, in fact there almost can’t be too much fish in my opinion but there certainly can be too many potatoes! This recipe is chocked full of fish, it’s creamy, chunky and there’s only one potato – which is plenty!
8 oz bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup celery, finely chopped
1 cup fennel, finely chopped
1 cup carrots, finely chopped
1 large baking russet potato (think Mr. Potato Head), peeled and diced
¼ cup flour
1 cup white wine
Fresh thyme sprigs
28 oz can chopped tomatoes
2 cups clam juice
5 cups vegetable or fish stock
1 cup whipping cream
3 1/2 lbs assorted raw fish/shellfish (shrimp, scallops, haddock, monkfish, cod, clams, etc)
Tabasco sauce (optional)
Clean, peel and devein shrimp. Cut all fish into bite-sized pieces, set aside.
Heat a little oil in a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until browned, remove with a slotted spoon, set aside. Drain all but four tablespoons of bacon fat from pan. Add onion, celery, fennel, carrots and potatoes, season with cayenne pepper. Cook until vegetables are softened and potatoes are almost done, about 15 minutes. Stir in flour, cook for a few more minutes stirring to prevent sticking and burning. Add wine, stir then add a few thyme sprigs, clam juice, stock and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Add the fish, reduce heat and simmer until the fish is almost cooked through. Remove thyme sprigs (if you feel like it), add cream and bacon to pan. Stir and continue cooking until chowder thickens. Serve and season with Tabasco sauce if desired.