Thursday, January 21, 2010

Polly's Seafood Chowder

It was my turn to host book club tonight. The book was "Ahab's Wife", which I knew we had to discuss over a bowl of chowder and a slice of pie. Not having made Seafood Chowder before, I began a search for a great recipe. I found one in the book "The Book Club Cookbook" by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp (which actually had a whole chapter on "Ahab's Wife") and another I found on "Laura's Best Recipes" attributed to Chef David Wells. I made one, which was good, but not great, then I made that one again, took some stuff out, added parts of the second recipe plus some crab and creamed corn, adjusted the method...and "Wallaaaaaa" a GREAT Seafood Chowder! Really, it is good. Everyone at book club said so!!! I am quite proud of it. This recipe makes a vat of chowder, and the leftovers reheat very well in the microwave-the seafood doesn't get overcooked and rubbery.  LOVE this recipe.

Polly's Seafood Chowder

6 slices of bacon, cooked crisply and crumbled (apple smoked if possible)
2-3 Tablespoons fat from cooked bacon (if you can't bear it, use olive oil)
1 cup diced onions (can sub some shallots for the onions-I used one and then made up a cup with the onion)
1 cup diced celery
2 cloves minced garlic
2 bay leaves
4 cups chicken broth
1 bottle clam juice (or seafood stock)
1 cup white wine
1.5 lbs (total) of Yukon Gold and Red potatoes, diced (I used half of each)
1 cup diced carrots
2 bay leaves
½ tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
1 ½ tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 - 4 green onions, diced
1 lb. firm white fish, cut into small cubes (snapper, halibut, cod-I used cod)
1 lb. raw scallops, cut into small pieces, if large
1 lb. raw shelled shrimp, cut into halves or thirds
3 cups frozen corn (can substitute 1 can creamed corn for 1 cup of frozen corn)
16 oz. lump crab meat (found in the refrigerated section of grocery stores...Lucky and Costco carry it in San Jose)
2 cups half and half or whipping cream (I used the whipping cream. Bad Polly, bad Polly)

Set aside cooked and crumbled bacon. (I save only the meaty parts and discard all the fat) In bacon grease left in pan (remove excess if you have more than 3T) sauté onions, shallots and celery for about 7 minutes. Stir in garlic, bay leaves, chicken broth, clam juice, white wine, finely diced potatoes and diced carrots. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes or until potatoes are cooked. Remove bay leaves. Remove one-half of mixture (4 -5 cups) and blend or puree until smooth. Return puree to pan with non-pureed mixture. Stir in thyme, tarragon, salt, pepper, corn, and creamed corn (if using). Can be made up to this point and refrigerated overnight (Which I recommend because it gives the flavors a chance to meld, and gives you the chance to skim excess hardened fat of surface before continuing). Bring base to a simmer and then continue. Stir in green onions, diced fish, scallops, shrimp, corn and half-and-half or whipping cream. Bring to boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in crab and reserved cooked and crumbled bacon. Let chowder sit for 10 minutes before serving.

This makes a whole heck of a lot of chowder...3 qts...which is 24 cups. If you have seafood lovers in your circle, then it's about 12 hearty servings. I have found that leftovers reheat very well in the MW. YUM!

Thanks for being a fan,


  1. So I didn't actually try this, I'm just trying to play with the comment thing. I'm sure this was good though. :)

  2. It was really delicious - perfect for a winter's evening. Thank you, Polly!


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