When I was in high school, I had a best friend whose family always treated me as if I were one of their own. They were always so generous with me. I remember one time specifically when we went to a high-end seafood restaurant in Boston called “The Four Seasons” – it couldn’t have been cheap. Here, I had my first experience with a truly amazing fish chowder. I can still remember how it tasted. Over the years, I’ve worked on recreating this dish and I feel that finally I’ve come up with something worthy of sharing here. Enjoy!
Time: 1 – 1.5 hours
Cost: About $4.00 per plate
- 8-12oz bacon, sliced into 1 inch pieces
- 4 stalks celery, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 3 jalapeño peppers, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 4 cups reduced sodium (or homemade) chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you like it)
- 1 generous pinch saffron (approximately 0.7 grams/0.2oz; Trader Joe’s sells just the right amount)
- 2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (approximate)
- 3/4 – 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 lb Firm fish: Tuna, mahi mahi, swordfish, etc
- 1 lb White fish: Cod, talapia, snapper, etc.
- Shellfish: Mussels, clams, shrimp, clams
Cook’s Note: For the seafood (ingredients 13-15), variety is key. Shoot for one firm fish, 2 white fishes, and at least two shellfish offerings. Frozen fish is fine but canned won’t work. Also, salmon doesn’t work as it has a distinct flavor that will overpower the rest of the dish.
- Sauté bacon over medium heat until fat is rendered and bacon is crispy, stirring occasionally. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the grease
- Lower heat to medium-low and add celery, onion and jalapeños. Sauté until onions are translucent and celery and jalapeños are soft. As the vegetables sweat out their moisture, scrape up any brown bits left behind by the bacon. 5-7 minutes.
- Add garlic and sauté with vegetables until fragrant, 1-2 minutes (do not brown)
- Add white wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up remaining brown bits from the bottom
- Add oregano, thyme, paprika, cayenne, stir to combine
- Add chicken stock and stir to combine
- Add saffron and stir again
- Add potatoes, stir once more, cover, and bring to a boil
- Uncover, reduce to a simmer, and continue to cook until potatoes are soft and liquid is reduced by 2/3 (you want it fairly thick), perhaps 45 minutes. If potatoes aren’t getting soft but chowder is thickening to quickly, reduce to a simmer and cover until potatoes are cooked through
- Add cream and continue to reduce until desired thickness is achieved, 10 – 15 minutes. You want it to be the consistency of gravy; it gets there when it gets there, but chunky is good.
- Once desired consistency is achieved, add the reserved bacon and seafood, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Simmer covered for 3-5 minutes.
- Off the heat and allow residual heat to finish cooking seafood through, 10 minutes
- Serve with fresh parsley and oyster crackers if desired