Seafood Chowder

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Last week we had an amazing trip to Connemara in the West of Ireland. After a day spent in the sea we took a drive to a beautiful little seaside village for a bowl of chowder. This dish would be just the ticket to warm us after our dip in the Atlantic. We built it up all day that I’m sure our expectations could never be met. The thoughts of fresh fish and smooth creamy sauce served with brown bread were all we could think of. When we did finally get to sit down, after Malcolm had a meltdown, food was served. The chowder was essentially warmed up milk with a seafood mix and very little seasoning. It was a let down but we did set the bar pretty high. Nevertheless it was all about the company and the setting. Nothing could dull that. On our return to Drogheda I vowed to make the best chowder ever. And here it is, a dish perfect for these wet days, that seem to be our given climate now. This famous dish in New England typically calls for clams as the main ingredient but when your fishmonger says he’s out of clams, you to have improvise.

The Ingredients:

150g Salmon
150g Pollack
100g Scallops
6 raw King prawns
1 tin of smoked oysters
100g White onion
2 Celery stalks
2 large Potatoes
65g of diced Pancetta or Pork lardons
50g Pork lard or unsalted butter
1 hard boiled egg
2 Bay leaves
1.5 ltrs Milk
1/4 cup of plain Flour
Sea salt and pepper for seasoning
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp Nutmeg

The Make:

This recipe calls for a mile en place. So get prepping and watch this dish come together, layer by layer. Firstly wash the celery, onion and potatoes. Boil one of the potatoes for mashing. Finely dice the other potato along with the celery and onion. I like to peel the celery before chopping to help get rid of the stringy stalk. Next chop up the fish ingredients into small bite size pieces. Place the fish pieces in a sieve in a bowl to catch any of the juices. These juices can be added to the dish to boost the flavour. Hard boil the egg now. In a large pot add the pork lard and brown off the pancetta. Remove pancetta from pot and set aside. Drain the remaining oil into a separate pot. Now in this pot add equal parts  flour and make a roux. Do this by gently heating the flour and oil and stir continuously until you have smooth sauce. Back in the original pot add the diced celery, onion and potato. Over a gentle heat sweat the vegetables until they start to go soft. Don’t over cook these or the onion will burn and ruin the dish. Now add the milk into this pot along with bay leaves. Bring it up to a gentle simmer. Stirring to ensure nothing sticks to the end of the pot. Add back in the pancetta. Now add the roux and stir until it is dissolved. Peel the boiled potato and mash it, a ricer is ideal here. Add this to the pot. Stir. Now take the hard boiled egg and grate it into the pot. Stir. Keep simmering until the sauce starts to coat the back of  the spoon. Now add in the fish and juice. Gently cook the fish in the hot sauce. This won’t take long so try not to over cook the fish or it will go rubbery. Once the dish is cooked strain off the sauce into a blender. Add the cayenne and nutmeg to the sauce and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. This method of blending the sauce gets rid off any unsightly oil or butter floating on top of sauce while it cooked. Now pour back the sauce over the fish and vegetables and return to the heat for a minute or two. This chowder is now ready to be served. Serve a generous bowl of this chowder with some fresh brown bread, Mc Closkeys Cottage Brown is my favourite. Now sit back and stare out your window at the flood in your back garden and think of what creative games you’ll play with the kids today.

Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

One thought on “Seafood Chowder

  1. We went to the wrong place for chowder! Next time I’m taking you to O’Dowds in Roundstone where I Guarantee a serious contender for your lovely recipie! 🐟🐠🍵👌

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