I used to loathe chowder. Then I had great chowder, and realized what the difference was. Versions I had in the past were heavily a cream base – very thick, and tasting primarily of fish and warm milk.
The secret, I’ve found, is butter, broth and salt. Butter and broth cuts through the cream, while salt to taste brings out all the other flavours (the fish will be strong enough, so you want to add some salt and spices).
It always sounds labour-intensive, making chowder, but this was done and ready in an hour, and a lot of that was prepping the veggies. And after an afternoon drive around the blustery coast, a great way to end the day.
1 leek, halved and then chopped
A piece of bacon, cut into pieces
1/4 c. butter
Put a large pot on medium heat, and add the butter and bacon. Once the butter is melted and the bacon sizzling, add the leek and cook, stirring occasionally until softened (about 10 minutes). Then add a couple pinches of nutmeg, three bay leaves, and a dash of salt, and cook for a few more minutes.
Then add: 1 sweet potato, 4 medium potatoes, and 2 small carrots – all peeled and chopped into cubes. Cook these for 5 – 7 minutes, until they start to soften. Add a box of chicken stock, and continue cooking for another 5 – 7 minutes.
Add 1 cup heavy cream and 1 cup of milk, stirring to combine. Once you get it back up to a simmer, add the chowder mix. The folks at North Market Seafood did one up for us, with scallops, shrimps, salmon and haddock. Let all this simmer for 10 minutes, add a pinch of paprika, and you’re golden.
We garnished with spring onions, parsley and a bit more bacon, then used the bread to sop up the broth. The butter will separate to the top of the bowl, but just mix it around with your spoon first.