We felt we had to continue with the happy-looking food theme in the Bistro kitchen this week. Chef Gerald loves sweet potato and corn, so he thought this could be a good opportunity to try his beak at making chowder for the first time!
As with so many other wonderful dishes, chowder is open to a lot of interpretation and experimenting in many kitchens, with versions ranging from those relying on just a few ingredients, to those that are quite complex. Connoisseurs can’t go past Clifford A. Wright’s rendition in a book called Real Stew, where he makes some wonderfully strong points about what constitutes a true chowder. I suppose he wouldn’t approve of the Bistro version, which is guilty of many no-no’s, but we just couldn’t resist the temptation of combining a traditional dish with other seasonal ingredients. Ours is a very rustic version, with a lovely chunky texture from the mixed vegetables and seafood, whose delicate flavour is accentuated by a dash of cream, while a generous sprinkling of fresh herbs adds a wonderfully vibrant and uplifting final note.
Seafood and Corn Chowder
500g marinara (seafood) mix
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 medium sized potatoes, cut into large chunks
1 medium sized sweet potato, cut into large chunks
Kernels from 2 fresh ears of corn
2 bay leaves
1 l fish stock
150ml white wine
125g double cream
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 bunch chives, finely chopped
Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan. Add the onions, garlic, carrot, celery and bay leaves and cook on moderate heat for about 7 – 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften.
Add the wine and the boil rapidly for a few minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Add the potatoes, sweet potato, corn and stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 – 12 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked.
Remove from heat and partially blend with a stick blender – we are aiming to process some of the vegetables, but still maintain some pieces intact in order to achieve a rough texture. If you prefer your chowder smooth, blend everything at this stage until desired consistency has been reached.
Return the mixture to the boil, then add the seafood and simmer gently for about 10 minutes.
Add the cream and chopped herbs and stir to ensure they are evenly incorporated, then bring to just below boiling point before removing from heat. Serves 4 – 6
Serve with good quality multigrain bread – if your parrot will let you have some: